Precarization Tendencies in Women’s Employment and The
Agenda of Atypical Employment Models*

Editorial          : KEİG Platform
First Edition  : 2014

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Where did we start from? [1]

During the last couple of years, it has become further discernable that the state policies for promotion of women’s employment are stubbornly revolving around certain policy axes. Those axes may be identified as “the introduction of flexible work and atypical forms of employment”, “promotion of women’s entre – preneurship”, and “partial regulation and institutionalization of some casual jobs and working schemes that have particularly been associated with women”. The tacid assumption, lying beneath that policy set, was that women’s employment can be effectively increased through flexibilization, entrepreneurship and casual employment/income generating activities:

(1) It is constantly brought up that flexible work and atypical forms of employment are the fundamental tools in increasing the women’s emloyment. Some of the policy initiatives that is taken up recently within this context have been regulations women employed in the public sector to work part time for up to 5 years after child birth, and those directing women in irregular and/or informal sectors to enter the work – force via temporary employment agencies. Furthermore, the argument that“women themselves would rather like to work flexibly” has become more and more commonplace. This argument, which has kept appearing in several different contexts, is based on the well-known fictive narrative of the “good mother”, who wants to stay at home and take care of her children till s/he reaches school age. In view of that dis – course, what we need is the creation of real alternatives that allow for motherhood to be experienced as a personal choice, rather than this fiction naturalizing the withdrawal of women from all other areas of life once they become mothers, and placing upon them the unfair expectation of professing what are called “motherly duties”. At this point, it is critically important that these forms of paid work, described by the term “flexible”, and what are alternatively called atypical employment practices, are not forced upon people as obligations; but, are rather put in place as desirable alternatives in terms of attached employment and social security rights, career opportunities and income. Another indispensable precondition of instituting flexible employment as an alternative option is provision of accessible, institutionalized and high-quality care services to free women from familial burdens and support their choosing power.

(2) When it comes to the issue of increasing women’s employment, we may also become aware of a dominant discourse and of attempts that focus on supporting women’s entrepreneurship. Although women’s entrepreneurship is an area that is immensely diversified in terms of services and initiatives, we may say that on a mass level it has mostly gone in the direction of trying to provide an answer to women’s search for income-generating activities, as the majority was unable to find any other paid employment alternative. Entrepreneurship promotion has thus come be an area where low profile jobs such as homebased work and small-scale contract manufacturing are encouraged for women. At this point, we, as the Women’s Labour and Employment Initiative (KEİG) Platform, have already stated and shall continue to state our opinion that services and incentives with regards to women’s entrepreneurship should rather be provided to women with high occupational profiles, or those who can be called opportunity entrepreneurs (women who know the sector, who have access to certain resources, etc.), and that women who are looking to become necessity entrepreneurs1 should instead be directed into waged employment alternatives.

(3) On the other hand, another noteworthy policy direction has been passing partial resolutions in order to institutionalize already existing forms of employment belonging to women, who are inclined to work in a fragile, insecure, and non-continuous manner. Some new social security regulations were prepared with the suggested target of covering women domestic workers in the social security system; there is state support for the formation of cooperatives amongst women working in the agricultural sector, as well as women doing home-based work; a cash transfer system for familial care of elderly and handicapped provided some women carers in families a quasi-employment status. In view of the precarious work status of domestic workers, home-based working women, home-based women cooperatives, family care workers, employment status appears as a problematic issue and the rights and benefits attached to employment status are not accessible. There is clearly an urgent need for regulations that enable the recognition of and thus support for the employment status of workers on a legal basis. It is important that these regulations also aim to strengthen the worker and occupational identities of these employees.

* No part of this report may be used without citing the source.
[1] This article is written by Aslı Çoban with contributions from KEİG Platform.


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