Turkish women make up about half of the electorate in Turkey, and women’s issues occupy a fundamental difference between the presidential contenders. Where each contestant criticized the other’s opinion of women, their role and rights in Turkish society.
Days before the second round of the Turkish presidential elections, on May 28, in a popular market in Istanbul, a group of Turkish women expressed their opinions in what is considered a fateful second round for the country.
“I hope Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gets 55 percent, 60 percent or even 70 percent,” says Serpil Koskaia, a 32-year-old accountant. “I like him very much… We have many unbelievers for what he did.”
During the period in which the Justice and Development Party headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan ruled, the status of veiled women changed dramatically, as women were allowed to wear the veil in government institutions and higher education after a period of banning it.
According to opinion polls, housewives voted in favor of lifting restrictions on wearing the veil in the field of public service and universities, by up to 60 percent during the 2018 presidential elections.
Razia Kouskaia, a 50-year-old housewife, explains: “They are stepping on the prayer rug. Who are you? His supporters say who are you? We are Tayyip’s supporters. We are with Tayyip until the last drop of our blood. We hope he stays in power even if it costs our lives.” “
And the Turkish president’s withdrawal from the Istanbul Convention in 2021, which is an international agreement on combating violence against women, was formed. In this context, Nurgun Eren, a 64-year-old housewife, says: “There is no place for women in the Erdogan government’s plans. I want change, otherwise our future as women will be terrifying.”
Convincing undecided voters
The secular Kemal Kilicdaroglu, the opposition candidate and leader of the Republican People’s Party (Democratic-Socialist), with his campaign videos showing him sitting in his kitchen, attracted only 44.9 percent of the vote in the first round.
“We are aware that there are audiences we cannot reach, especially housewives,” Istanbul Mayor of the Republican People’s Party (CHP) Ekrem Imamoglu said last week.
On the other hand, the Justice and Development Party has been sending women to knock on the doors of homes for two decades as part of its election campaign.
“There are women who were killed, and none of the killers was punished,” says Tejan Albanli, a 63-year-old housewife. “In my opinion, these people should not be released from prison. I don’t want Turkey to turn into an Arab country in the future, I think this is “It can happen and I don’t want it. I also have friends who wear hijab. Hijab is not a problem for me. I respect everyone’s beliefs.”
The unemployment rate among Turkish women is about 13.8%, compared to only 8.1% for men in 2022, according to the Turkish Statistical Institute.