Working women in Turkey: Unemployment, violence and insecurity
Working Women in Turkey report: Just 3 out of 10 women in Turkey are employed and almost half of these working women are undocumented.
The report “Working Women in Turkey” prepared by the DİSK/Genel-İş (Confederation of Revolutionary Trade Unions /General Workers Union) research team ahead of International Women’s Day shows the shocking state that women are in. According to the report, as a result of societal inequalities, women (who constitute 49.5% of the total population) have experienced setbacks and restrictions in all aspects of life including politics, law, education and health. The key findings of the report are as follows:
17,000 CHILDREN GIVE BIRTH
Girls being forced into underage marriage and motherhood, and thus being deprived of their right to education and life, has brought to prominence the reality of child brides and underage pregnancy in the country. According to official statistics, at least a 3rd of all women were married under 18 and nearly 17,000 children gave birth. 234 of the children who gave birth were under 15. A large number of these children were forced to give birth following experiences of child abuse. The real figures are expected to be much higher when unrecorded cases are also taken into account.
AT LEAST FOUR WOMEN A DAY EXPERIENCE VIOLENCE
Every day women are subject to violence from men they know as well as strangers in all environments, including within their families, on the streets, on public transport and in their workplaces. In 2017 at least 286 women and girls were murdered by men. 101 women were raped, 248 women were sexually assaulted, 377 girls were sexually abused and 418 women were subject to violence. According to reports at least four women a day experience violence.
The lack of legal protection and precautions, even as violence against women increases in the country, makes women feel unsafe. 4 out of 10 women report feeling unsafe.
WOMEN ARE HEAVILY IMPACTED BY POVERTY
According to official figures, there are more than 16 million people living in poverty, making 21.2% of the population. 21.6 % of women live in poverty.
TURKEY TRAILS BEHIND ON GENDER EQUALITY
The World Economic Forum 2017 index on gender inequality shows that Turkey ranks 131 on a list of 145 countries. The same study also sheds light on women in employment. When we examine the “economic participation and equality of opportunity” outcomes, we see that Turkey is 128th out of 144 countries. It is one of the last on the list of 144 countries, in terms of access to education, political participation, and involvement in economic life and opportunities.
WOMEN UNDER-REPRESENTED IN LABOUR FORCE
Women’s participation in the labour force in November 2017 had increased by 1.1 points to 33.8% compared to the same month of previous year. Despite this increase, women’s participation in the workforce remains below that of other OECD and EU countries. Annual figures for 2016 show 32.5% of women participating in the labour force in Turkey, whilst the average in OECD countries is 51.9% and 46% in the EU.
Women’s participation in employment has gone up 1.8% to 29.3% in November 2017 (compared to November the previous year). In 2015 women’s participation in employment was 30.2%. Insufficient policies aimed at increasing women’s participation in employment and societal gender roles play an important role in the current situation. For example, 11million women state that they are unable to work because of the demands of housework.
When we look at the position of women in employment, women in paid, salaried and waged work was 60% in 2014. This went up to 63% in 2016 and the 65.2% in November 2017. Women in unpaid housework were 29.4% in 2014. This figure fell to 26.3% in 2016 and then to 24% in November 2017.
WOMEN FORCED TO WORK UNDOCUMENTED AND OVER 45 HOURS
One of the most important problems faced by women in work is the high number of unregistered work. According to records from November 2017, 43% of women workers are unregistered. 9 out of 10 women workers doing housework, 7 out of 10 self-employed women, and 2 out of 10 waged / salaried workers are being employed without documentation. This situation not only leaves women insecure but also deprives women of their basic rights such as pensions and healthcare.
Records from November 2017 show that 3.1 million women (34% of working women) are regularly working over 45 hours a week. 1.26 million of them are undocumented. 87% of women workers who are employed 1-16 hours a week and 67% of women workers who are employed 17-35 hours a week are also undocumented.
WOMEN MOST IMPACTED BY UNEMPLOYMENT
Women are most impacted by unemployment and this is increasing. Women’s unemployment was 11.9% in 2014. This figure went up to 13.7% in 2016 and down to 13.4% in November 2017. In 2014, the number of unemployed women was 2.8 million: this reached almost 3 million in 2016 and 2.9 million in November 2017.
Women’s unemployment rate in Turkey is roughly double that of OECD and EU countries. Young women’s unemployment rate was 20% in 2014 and has increased steadily to 23.5% in 2016 and 25% in November 2017.
Unemployment amongst women graduates did not improve much. In 2016 it was 16.9% as opposed to 4.9% in the OECD countries and 5.6% in the EU.
ONLY 6% OF WOMEN WORKERS JOIN TRADE UNIONS
Whilst trade union membership amongst male and female workers in Turkey fluctuates annually, it remains low. In 2014, 4.6% of women workers were trade union members. This figure went up to 8.1% in January 2018. However, this level of membership is substantially lower than membership amongst male workers, which went up from 10.6% to 13.5%. In contrast, when we look at women’s trade union membership, including undocumented workers trade union membership amongst women drops to as low as 6%.