KEIG PLATFORM PRESS RELEASE
Incentive for “Motherhood Career” came out of the package!
Yesterday, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu declared Action Plan for Family and Dynamic Population Structure Protection Program which includes regulations about women’s worklife, childcare and family protection. In fact, premise of this declaration had been made by Family and Social Policies Minister Ayşenur İslam in late December who participated in monthly breakfast meetings organized by Turkey Women Entrepreneurs’ Association (KAGİDER). In open to press part of the meeting, the Minister mentioned the importance of women’s participation in the labor force as contribution to whole economy as well as empowerment of women and having a saying in the household decisions, repeating a reality spoken out by women’s organizations for years. Still, when we look at proceeded part of her speech and government’s policies concerning women and implementations on women’s employment, we have seen that neither she approached the issue on the basis of gender equality, nor from a perspective of “decent” job opportunities.
Private kindergartens should not be seen as substitutes for public ones
In KAGİDER’s meeting, Ayşenur İslam stated that they were working on women’s participation in worklife and mentioned that it would be a must for municipalities to open kindergartens and nurseries. Davutoğlu also talked about this regulation in his speech yesterday. Nevertheless, the basis of his talk was increasing fertility and empowering family. It would be an important step that municipalities should open kindergartens. Yet, as can be seen, not all municipalities will be imposed this obligation. As can be remembered, obligation of opening women’s shelter for municipalities above 50 thousand inhabitants was silently changed to 100 thousand recently. Furthermore, even when the limit was 50 thousand, most of the municipalities were reluctant to fulfill their obligations and there was no sanction in return. On the contrary, İslam’s saying that private sector will be promoted to perform these services instead of the state and more private kindergartens means quality and cheap service undermines the reality that services provided by private sector are formed on the basis of making high profits and thus it is impossible for low income parents to pay for. Moreover, as long as these services are not provided for free, even if they are cheaper, still it will remain as an opportunity for only certain ones who have economic power to some extent. However, we should open a parenthesis here. This is not a total objection of private kindergartens. Important point here is talking about private kindergartens is only possible after enough number of quality kindergartens are provided extensively as a public service. In other words, promoting variation in services on the basis of parents and children, we say that quality public kindergartens for all children in international standards should be prioritized. Namely, we object private kindergartens as substitutes for public ones.
As known, in 2014 educational support was given by Ministry of National Education and preschool education was also included. The structure of implementation confirms our cautious approach towards private sector incentives. 2500 TL of annual preschool education incentive was executed with a quota of 50 thousand and grading system. Support given compensates only a part of monthly kindergarten fees and the remaining amount is covered by parents. Only 24,342 applications for 50 thousand quotas show this system discriminates even among needy people and does not work.
On the other hand, auditing of both public and private kindergartens are of critical importance. In the absence of effective auditing mechanisms, it is impossible to talk about quality education by neither public nor private kindergartens. Besides, as brought up in the news recently, public kindergartens are all closed in public holidays and this causes problems for parents working in private sector. In other words, as long as public kindergartens are not qualified, free of charge and compatible with working hours, they will be far from meeting the need.
Women are sacrificed in favor of preserving population “trend”
Yesterday, Davutoğlu declared that although 3 to 5 children suggestions, population is getting older rapidly, family institution is losing power and ‘heralded’ that women will be working part time but will be paid full time and half of employer’s costs will be paid by the government. A new program is put into practice ignoring women’s payoff including practices such as birth loan, ‘dowry money’, gold coin to new born child. Again, there is no regulation to extend early child care and education and for men to share child care responsibility. As minister İslam said government supports kindergarten service only as a new investment area for private sector. Only regulations for women are on the agenda concerning child care. Participation of women in the labor force is accepted only if family care is the fundamental task of women. Despite government’s never ending propaganda, Davutoğlu’s approach to the issue of people not having 3 children as a ‘trend’ rather than a poverty problem, his perspective of trying to overcome patriarchal family problems with pre-marriage education programs, program suggestions that prioritize preventing overspending for people unable to make any saving, instead of structural solutions, discloses that we are facing a package with state’s curative attitude; it is just an attempt of arrogant solutions for people whom it regards as lazy, consumptive and ignorant.
In his declaration, Davutoğlu says they will give women opportunity to work part time and they will be paid full time. He adds that employer’s cost will be paid by the state. We do not have any detailed information about how this is going be implemented but not many details are necessary to tell this declaration is not realistic. Full payment for part time work may be applied in public institutions. However, when we take into account majority is in private sector, for the employer, it will mean that the task is not completed. In this case, another employee will be needed to complete the task. Cost of this employee with all her/his benefits will be more than the employee’s cost who is on leave. Who will compensate this gap? In such a case, it is not a surprise that the employer does not prefer woman employees.
On the other hand, it is possible to say this regulation forms a basis for renting employees through private employment offices. Most of all, mentioned practices are only for certain number of employees unless caring services are extended. Millions of women working informally, will not benefit from neither maternity leave nor part time work. Davutoğlu’s ‘good news’ ignores compatibility of worklife for child care responsibility of both mothers and fathers and necessity of minimum two months of nontansferrable from father to mother and paid parental leave that women’s organizations’ promote. Even though part time working model seems to cover all employees, as recently Health Minister Müezzinoğlu’s declaration “Mothers should not take any career other than motherhood to the center” and government officials’ declarations in every instance that they do not believe in gender equality show all these practices target women.
Government Deepens Gender Inequality
As seen in both Minister İslam’s and Prime Minister Davutoğlu’s declarations, contribution is made to further increase gender inequality because of actions with presumption that family care is only women’s responsibility and because men’s “name” is not present in the picture. It becomes obvious that they do not see women’s participation in the labor force as a necessary step to achieve gender equality. In women’s participation in the labor force, apart from certain municipalities opening kindergartens and incentives for private kindergartens, again the need labor market flexibilization is pronounced. Flexibilization is a working model suggested for women to work both part time and sustain household “tasks”. Yet, apart from meaning low payments and almost impossible retirement, as opposed to what is claimed, flexibilization obviously makes it harder to spend time on children or other dependant family members’ care in Turkey where weekly working hours are very long. This leads women to work informally at home without any work safety and often even having to benefit from their children’s work. Therefore, when we talk about increasing women’s employment, if we do not question quality of this employment, we are stuck in a numerical increase. This case itself provides a basis for “however it is, just work” mentality.
So far, we know that packages of ‘good news’ has not provided any tool/opportunity to change secondary position of women in society. We have been shouting out for many years how women’s employment will be increased with eroding gender inequality and providing a “decent” life standard. We are not buying surprises from the packages done by an execution which ignore the truth we disclose and rule out this reality!
9 January 2015
 “Bakan İslam’dan Kadınlara Paket müjdesi”, Haber 3, 18 December 2014. http://www.haber3.com/aysenur-islamdan-kadinlara-paket-mujdesi-3085900h.htm
 Parents filled a form of 6 questions. While grading was done on the basis of previous year success for primary, secondary and high school students, whether parents are alive or not and income level was also variables which affected grading. Yet, we do not know what kind of grading system was applied for preschool. http://mebk12.meb.gov.tr/meb_iys_dosyalar/32/01/704224/icerikler/ozel-okul-ogrenci-tesviki-basvuru-sartlari-nereden-yapiliyor_1340528.html
 “MEB özel okula teşvik listesi açıkladı”, Milliyet, 1 September 2014. http://www.milliyet.com.tr/meb-ozel-okula-tesvik-listesi-gundem-1934082/
 “Özelde Çalışan Anneler Mağdur”, Cumhuriyet, 3 January 2015. http://www.cumhuriyet.com.tr/haber/turkiye/177799/Ozelde_calisan_anneler_magdur.html
 “Sağlık Bakanı Müezzinoğlu: Annelik bir kariyerdir”, Hürriyet, 2 January 2015. http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/gundem/27882199.asp