Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Women's and Girls' Sports in Turkey

Academic journal article Women in Sport & Physical Activity Journal

Women's and Girls' Sports in Turkey

Article excerpt

Abstract

In Turkey, as a secular Muslim country, women have a modern, contemporary lifestyle but are also attached to their traditions and customs. Although sport in Turkey is being encouraged and supported by the state through The Directorate General of Youth and Sports (DGYS), the Turkish Football Federation, and sports clubs, the gap between the facilities and number of sports provided for male and female athletes can easily be seen. Women and girls are not receiving the same opportunities as men, which differ by region and according to the socioeconomic status and education level of the people. The families' view of sports is also an important factor affecting girls' sports. In the past two decades there has been an increase in participation among women and girls in elite and recreational sports, however this is not satisfactory.

Introduction

In Turkey, as a secular Muslim country, women have a modern, contemporary lifestyle, but are also attached to their traditions and customs. This may change due to the diversity of the country according to region, socioeconomic status, and the educational level of the people. Generally speaking, as women become educated and economically independent they have the chance to lead a much more modern lifestyle, but the essence of their traditions and customs may still govern their lives. This could be considered the characteristic feature of Turkish women.

According to the Turkish Civil Law that was first issued in 1926 just after the Turkish Republic was established by the Turkish National Hero, Mustafa Kemal ATATORK, "men and women [had] equal rights in all aspects of life" (The Constitution of Republic of Turkey, 2010). Thus women gained the same opportunities as men in education facilities, in the work environment, and in family life, and they also had the same rights over their children and their education. In 2001, some reforms were made to the Turkish Civil Law to provide better protection for women and children. According to these reforms, the head of the family is no longer the father--as specified before--but ratherboth father and mother have equal rights to decide on family issues.

Although this has been written in the law, the patriarchal lifestyle still dominates in the eastern and rural parts of the country, where the education level is lower, In certain regions men still make the decisions regarding family issues by themselves, since they hold the economical power, and the women carry out their role of taking care of the household and children. This comes from traditions and customs that we believe could be reduced as the education level of both genders increases. The same situation can be seen in sports opportunities for women, which unfortunately are not homogeneous in all parts of the country either (Asci, 2005). Additionally, cultural and religious expectation may urge women and girls to practice sports with a scarf covering the hair and with certain dresses rather then regular sports clothing (Pfister, 2000), especiallyin the schools and in the governmental areas open to the public. However, private centers, clubs, and open public areas sometimes allow women to practice sports in any manner they wish. These differences are associated with the cultural diversity of the country. The Hosper, Nierkens, van Valkengoed, and Stronks (2008) study regarding the effect of acculturation on sport participation among young Turkish and Moroccan women in the Netherlands reported that acculturation had a positive influence rts among Turkish women, but not among Moroccan women. Their findings imply that culturally specific attitutes among Turkish women were effective at increasing their participation in sports. We believe that the releation between culturally specific attitudes or beliefs and the partcipation in physical activities and sports among Turkish women living in the Western world is also affected by the concrete infleunce of their background in Turkey. …

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