Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

To Branch or Not to Branch? Women and Political Parties in Turkey/Kadin Kollari? Turkiye Orneginde Kadin Ve Politic Partiler

Academic journal article Kadin/Woman 2000

To Branch or Not to Branch? Women and Political Parties in Turkey/Kadin Kollari? Turkiye Orneginde Kadin Ve Politic Partiler

Article excerpt


This essay discusses the impact of the women's branches in political parties on the role of women in Turkish politics, specifically in the secular Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi-RPPj and the now-defunct Islamist Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi-VP). The study examines the advantages and disadvantages of organizing women separately from men. The comparison demonstrates that the women's branches fall short of being an effective way of challenging men's domination in politics because they reinforce the traditional gender division of labor, lack institutional autonomy, and remain outside the decision-making process of the central party organizations. It argues mat the secularist-Islamist confrontation encourages women and men to take a unified-party position vis-a-vis their contenders and hinders women's struggle for intra-party equity.

Keywords: women's political participation, politics and women, women's branches, Islamist parties and women, RPP and women.


Bu yazi genelde siyasi partilere bagli kadin orgutlerinin, kadinin siyasetteki rolune etkisini arastirmata, ozelde ise bunu Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi (RPP) ve 2001 yilinda Anayasa Mahkemesi karariyla kapatilmis olan Fazilet Partisi (VP) arasinda bir karsilastirma yaparak tartismaktadir. Calisma, kadinlarin erkeklerden ayri bir kurumsal yapi icinde orgutlenmesinin, kadinin siyasi katilimi acisindan olumlu ve olumsuz yonlerini irdeler. Karsilastirma gostermistir ki kadin kollari siyasetteki erkek egemeligine etkin bir bicimde karsi koyacak mekanizmaya sahip degildir. Bunun nedeni kadin kollarinin kadin ve erkek arasindaki geleneksel is bolumunu tesvik ediyor olmasi, orgut icinde ozerk bir yapisinin olmamasi, ve de parti icindeki karar verme mekanizmasinin disinda yeraliyor olmasidir. Laikci-lslamci cephelesmesinin, parti icindeki kadin ve erkeklerin diger partilerdeki rakiplerine karsi tek bir cephe halinde hareket etmelerini tesvik etmekte ve kadinin parti icinde yurutmekte oldugu mucaleyi sekteye ugratmaktadir.

Anahtar Kelimeler: Kadinin siyasete katilimi, kadin ve siyaset, kadin kollari, Islamci partiler ve kadin, CHP ve kadin.


Recent studies on women and politics in Turkey have noted women's increasing visibility in both secular and Islamist politics since the 1980s. These studies have generally focused on women who have aligned themselves with a particular ideological camp through participation in demonstrations, involvement in civil society organizations, and election to parliament (Senol, 2006; Y. Arat, 1998, 2000 & 2004; Cosan & Cindoglu, 1999; Gocek, 1999; Ilyasoglu, 1998). Much less attention has been given to women's political participation through women's branches of political parties. This study aims to fill that gap in the literature by comparing the women's branches of two ideologically opposite parties: the secular Republican People's Party (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, or RPP) and the Islamist-oriented Virtue Party (Fazilet Partisi, or VP). The essay focuses on issues related to women's political participation through these branches.

Such a comparison between women's branches is important for three reasons. First, in contrast to the great amount of general literature on women's participation in politics through elections, political parties, and political institutions, few studies exist regarding the impact of separate organizations for women on their political participation. Systematic analysis of the women's branches is especially important in the case of Turkey given that, over the last decade, separate organizations for women have become a major tool for channeling women into politics. This essay analytically examines this impact and attempts to answer the following questions: Could women's branches help women to challenge male domination in politics? What are the advantages and disadvantages of organizing women separately from men in political parties? …

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