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Which party will women ‘bury’ in the ballot box ?

lundi 28 mars 2011, par Serpil Yilmaz

It was Fatma Ünsal Bostancı who set the fire at the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP, meeting when she told Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, “You either nominate female deputy candidates who wear a headscarf or I will become an independent candidate.”

After this, it is difficult for women who wear a headscarf, either from the AKP or other political parties, to give up on Parliament membership.

What will happen to women who wear a headscarf if they persist in their deputy candidacies, an issue where their stance in politics will be tested ?

Ünsal is pursuing a Ph.D degree at the Boğaziçi University Political Science and International Affairs Department. The headscarf issue is not in the field of rights and freedoms, where she has a different political view from her party.

The first time I met this mother of two she was heading to Iraq as a human shield during the U.S. occupation in Iraq. Ünsal also supported campaigns to stop children standing trial in Courts for Serious Crimes.

I am writing about her because I find it important that her concerns are not just limited to the headscarf issue. I also give importance to her liberal and egalitarian attitude, which I find distinctive.

Ups and downs of the AKP

Now let me talk about the zigzags of the AKP since Ünal’s famous statement.

As a response to Ünsal’s remark Prime Minister Erdoğan had given a glimmer of hope, saying, “We might have women candidates who wear a headscarf.”

Didn’t we have enough with Merve Kavakçı being expelled from Parliament 12 years ago for wearing a headscarf and with the removal of her citizenship for her being a U.S. citizen ?

As we approach the June 12 elections, the issue was brought back to the agenda during Erdoğan’s trip to Lebanon.

Erdoğan invited two female columnists on his airplane for the first time, liberal columnist Sevilay Yükselir of daily Sabah and daily Yenişafak’s Hilal Kaplan, who wears a headscarf.

Erdoğan kept the balance in subsequent trips, but has not yet given his final word on women candidates who wear a headscarf.

The photograph on the way to Lebanon

We didn’t learn what the prime minister was thinking during the Lebanon trip, as his answer to Kaplan’s question about women wearing a headscarf in Parliament was limited to pointing to Yükselir and saying, “You two will solve this problem.”

However, State Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç’s confession, “It is not time for women candidates who wear a headscarf” was a sign that the AKP was dragging its feet to clear the way to Parliament for women in its party grassroots.

The issue of women candidates who wear a headscarf did not just come to the agenda due to Yükselir and Kaplan’s insistence.

The issue has already been brought to the agenda by the Association for the Support and Training of Women Candidates, or Ka-Der.

Ka-Der Chairwoman Çiğdem Aydın held the press meeting of the campaign titled “We want 275 women deputies,” together with the Hürriyet Publishing CEO Vuslat Doğan Sabancı, author Ayşe Kulin, columnist Nihal Bengisu Karaca and TV program hostess Ayşe Özgün.

The message given at the meeting was “Women forming half of the population demand equal representation right in Parliament.”

Bengisu Karaca became the voice of other women who cover their heads and reminded political parties about the women’s right to stands for election.

Unsatisfied with campaigns

Sabancı, who is supporting Ka-Der’s campaign, has also led the “Righteous Women Platform” including 20 civil society organizations representing 100,000 members. Equal representation of women in Parliament, increasing female employment and adjusting laws accordingly are among the demands of the platform emphasizing in female parliamentary deputies with Turkey being ranked as the 105th among 180 countries.

Joining the campaign Bostan let us know the slogan she would use if she becomes an independent deputy candidate :

“All citizens of the Republic of Turkey are free and equal ; there is no need to say women who wear a headscarf are included.”

I recently heard from Kaplan about a new campaign : No women candidates with a headscarf, no vote !

This is a very serious move, it’s no joke. Considering that 60 percent of the country’s 36 million women wear a headscarf, we are talking about the power to bury any political party in sight.

Women have determined the parties’ sincerity. Countries having less than 10 percent women in parliaments are not among the most developed economies.

The AKP’s position in particular is so serious when you think out loud saying, “Politics is not about carrying a woman who wears a headscarf to the Presidency and then do nothing.”

Bengisu Karaca became the voice of other women who cover their heads and reminded political parties about the women’s right to stands for election.

Unsatisfied with campaigns

Sabancı, who is supporting Ka-Der’s campaign, has also led the “Righteous Women Platform” including 20 civil society organizations representing 100,000 members. Equal representation of women in Parliament, increasing female employment and adjusting laws accordingly are among the demands of the platform emphasizing in female parliamentary deputies with Turkey being ranked as the 105th among 180 countries.

Joining the campaign Bostan let us know the slogan she would use if she becomes an independent deputy candidate :

“All citizens of the Republic of Turkey are free and equal ; there is no need to say women who wear a headscarf are included.”

I recently heard from Kaplan about a new campaign : No women candidates with a headscarf, no vote !

This is a very serious move, it’s no joke. Considering that 60 percent of the country’s 36 million women wear a headscarf, we are talking about the power to bury any political party in sight.

Women have determined the parties’ sincerity. Countries having less than 10 percent women in parliaments are not among the most developed economies.

The AKP’s position in particular is so serious when you think out loud saying, “Politics is not about carrying a woman who wears a headscarf to the Presidency and then do nothing.”

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Sources

Source : TdZ, Friday, March 25, 2011

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