The women’s movement in Turkey challenged: the AKP factor

Student thesis: Master Thesis and HD Thesis

  • Gyulyuzar Mustafa
4. term, Global Refugee Studies, Master (Master Programme)
Although Turkey has signed various international treaties on women’s rights, significant setbacks in human rights for women still persist. The ruling AKP government’s patriarchal attitude towards women have indirectly determined the agenda of women’s rights NGOs, when Islamically rooted groups took the place of the former secular ones and the approach to women’s rights shifted towards assigning to the women the function of cultivators of a “pious generation”. Along with the struggles for improving women’s life, women’s movement in Turkey fight for changing mindsets and cultural values and for the recognition of women as individual human beings.

The present thesis seeks to explore the different positions taken up by organisations working with women's rights in contemporary Turkey, with regard to the government’s practices of restrictions posed to women and to the movement in general. I argue, that even though, women’s rights NGOs share the commonality of being part of the women’s movement in Turkey and fighting for female citizens’ well-being, their working fields, approaches and perceptions are often dissimilar, and even conflicting in some areas. These contradictions, on the other hand, greatly impact their relation with the AKP government. However, according to my findings, all of the interviewed NGOs are positioned under the same umbrella of a politicized and a very controversial reality, in which they are running their activities. As a result, I assume that their success of still being able to sustain their existence with regard to the current challenges they undergo, de facto unites them, rather than divides.

The thesis builds its research on both qualitative and quantitative data collection methods. Three semi-structured interviews were conducted and two self-administered questionnaires were filled out from Turkish women’s rights NGOs. The study covered opinions of Kemalist, Islamist and Leftist women’s organizations. Additionally, in order to comprehend and support my findings, I unfolded two theoretical phenomenons. Firstly, the phenomenon of NGO-government relationship and, secondly, the phenomenon of Social movement.

The findings of this thesis contribute to the better understanding of relationships between NGOs and governments in the particular context of Turkey and concludes that generalizations of relations between NGOs and governments are problematic, due to their high dependence on the contemporary state of affairs in the countries.
Publication date30 May 2017
Number of pages63
ID: 258652647