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Women's Services


Services available to women in Turkey.

The Turkish parliament's confirmation of the United Nations convention against discrimination based on sex in October 1980 formed the legal basis for the government's providing services to women. It started with the establishment of a Women's Unit within the State Planning Organization in 1985. It was followed by the creation of the General Directorate of Women's Affairs (Kadının Statüsü ve Sorunları Genel Müdürlüğü) within the Ministry of Labor and Social Security in 1990. This directorate was to collect data concerning the status of women in Turkey and their major problems. It was transferred in 1991 to the office of the prime minister.

In 1993, an independent undersecretary for women's affairs and social services (Başbakanlik Kadin ve Sosyal Hizmetler Müsteşarlığı) was created within the office of the prime minister, and the general directorate came under the supervision of this undersecretary. In 1991, the directorate had a staff of five; in 1994, the staff had grown to forty-two. The provincial network has not yet been established. In 1994, its budget was about 0.002 percent of the national budget.

Special women's units have been set up in the ministries of Health, Labor and Social Security, and National Education. In 1993 the State Statistical Institute created a data bank for women's issues.

Several Turkish universities have established women's studies centers that offer graduate courses and M.A. degrees:

  1. Istanbul University Women's Studies Center (Istanbul Üniversitesi Kadin Sorunları Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi), in 1990
  2. Marmara University Women's Labor Force and Employment Center (Marmara Üniversitesi Kadın İşgücü İstihdamı Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi), in 1990
  3. Ankara University Women's Studies Center (Ankara Üniversitesi Kadın Sorunları Araştırma ve Uygulama Merkezi), in 1993
  4. The Middle East Technical University Women's Studies Graduate Program (ODTÜ Kadın Çalışmaları Yüksek Lisans Programı), in 1994

In 1980 local governments started to sponsor literacy courses, legal-advice centers, and occupational orientation services for women. However, these programs remained confined to municipalities in the metropolitan areas. In 1993 labor unions began to establish women's commissions in order to acquaint female workers with their legal rights. Almost all major political parties also have women's commissions as well.

Nongovernment organizations concerned with women's issues number 211. Their major endeavors have been to increase women's visibility on the national level and create favorable public opinion regarding legislative and administrative initiatives that benefit women. They are instrumental in raising consciousness and establishing various types of platforms, particularly combating sexual harassment and violence in the family. The Women's Library and Data Bank (Kadın Eserleri Kütüphanesi ve Bilgi Merkezi Vakfi), which is supported by a foundation and the city of Istanbul, has been active in collecting oral histories of women leaders and artists and creating an archive for historical records.

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