Monday, June 13, 2011

Porcelain Moon and Pomegranates

To the outsider at least, the status of women in Turkey is both ambiguous and controversial. Ataturk’s reforms of the 1920s gave Turkish women rights unimaginable for their Ottoman-era predecessors, with Turkish women able to vote in parliamentary elections in 1934 and stand for election in 1935. In the 1937 elections 18 of the 550 members elected were women. However, in the last elections in 2007, there were still only 50 women elected, less than 10 percent of the total. Many other reforms have taken place in the same period that have given women parity with men – equal pay, equal rights to education and equal rights to inheritance, amongst others. On the surface at least, despite the less than impressive growth in the numbers of female deputies in the Turkish Parliament, Turkish women have achieved equality with their men-folk. But, as Üstün Bilgen Reinart’s fascinating book reveals, inequalities between men and women persist. How many working women here, for example, still give up their careers to become mothers and housewives? Even when married women with children continue to work full-time, how many of their husbands men cook, clean or look after their children?

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