25 October 2007
ESI in Washington - Women, Islam and the Future of Turkish Democracy

The Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington D.C. hosted a lecture by ESI senior analyst Nigar Goksel about the changing situation of women in Turkey. Her key points included the socio-economic changes Turkey has experienced since the 1980s, the history of the women’s movement, regional discrepancies in the changes, and the rising prominence of Islam.

She pointed out that while women have been a key voting base for the Islamist parties (Welfare, then AKP) and helped to mobilize voters, they were not well incorporated into the party. The impact that the changing women’s situation has had on democracy in Turkey is the increased ability of feminist groups to successfully lobby government leaders.

During Q&A, Goksel discussed the headscarf issue. She suggested that it is such an issued because by wearing it women are seen as rejecting Ataturk’s dress code and by extension the whole Republic.

ESI report: "Sex and Power in Turkey. Feminism, Islam and the Maturing of Turkish Democracy"