Where is the situation of women’s labor and employment headed toward?

IMG_5818Women’s Labor and Employment Initiative (KEİG) Platform held a public panel in Cezayir Meeting Lounge in November 19, 2014 related to the two reports published about the recent situation of women’s labor and employment in Turkey and its future. Discussions were held especially about flexibilization and childcare services in the public panel with the participation of about 40 people from women’s, labor and employment organizations and public institutions.
Aslı Çoban summarized the report titled Trends of Precarization in Women’s Employment and Atypical Employment Agenda and concentrated upon trends of casualization in the labor market. According the general framework put forward by Çoban, how atypical working (temporary, partial, or self employment) becoming dominant in women’s employment leads to precarization is explained through the examples from three countries in Europe.

Çoban explained the current trends in the labor market as follows: “In the past bad jobs were seen in informal areas and for people without education or unqualified work; however, at present bad jobs are also seen in highly educated and qualified works.” Çoban asserted that atypical, non-standard forms of work increase worldwide and cited the basic features of precarization as follows: insecurity and poor working conditions, poverty of employees, having no alternative, uncertainty of future, and inability to organize.

What is the envisioned increase in women’s employment?

Çoban stated that an effort increase women’s employment is agreed upon by all the segments of the society and that this effort is based upon three main axes: flexibilization and atypical employment agenda, promotion of women’s entrepreneurship, institutionalization of forms of casual and irregular employment with partial supports. Çoban also indicated that it is open to discussion women’s employment planned to increase through these policies will lead to which forms of employment.

The precarization process in work life and women’s employment is studied in three main axes through the examples of the Netherlands, Spain, and Italy in the report: temporary working, part-time working and self employment. The reason why these countries are selected is explained as that the three forms of employment studied are common in these countries. In addition, features, implementations and their results for the regulation of childcare services for the harmonization of work and non-work life in these countries are addressed.

What’s the meaning of increasing employment of women in Europe for Turkey?

Although one of the common characteristics of the three countries studied in the report are the recent increase of women’s employment, the regulations for childcare services that constitute an obstacle for women’s employment are lagging behind and the unequal situation of women in the labor market remains. Women who carry the burden of the responsibility of childcare are pushed toward forms of atypical employment such as part-time, temporary or self-employment instead of full time employment.

Çoban notes that although these types of employment undertaken mainly by women increases women’s employment, it pushes them towards worse and insecure jobs, and that Turkey which promotes atypical and flexible employment types for women bears the same risk.

What do the public institutions propose for women’s employment?

Another report prepared by the platform, Women’s Labor and Employment in Turkey within the Clamps of Flexibilization and Informalization: An analysis within the Framework of Policy Texts, was presented by Saniye Dedeoğlu. Dedeoğlu stated that the average of women’s employment in OECD countries is 57% and EU aims to increase it to 75% by 2020 and reminded that in addition to low employment rate in Turkey, women commonly work in the informal areas and mostly as unpaid agricultural workers.

It was emphasized that an analysis for gender equality was made in the report through women’s labor and employment by studying strategic documents for future of the Ministries of Development, Finance, Labor and Social Security, Family and Social Policies, and Education, General Directorate of Women’s Status, Social Security Institution and National Employment Strategy.

Women’s employment and flexibilization as a development strategy

Dedeoğlu indicated that women’s employment is taken as a development objective and strategy in these documents, and the main objective is to integrate women’s labor which is seen to be idle instead of regulating the quality of jobs. Dedeoğlu emphasized that flexibilization comes to the forefront as a strategy to increase women’s employment in the documents of institutions in Turkey as in the international documents, and that employment security is taken as essential instead of job security; that is, working under any conditions is taken as primary instead of individual keeping her job.

The areas studied in the report focus on undeclared work, services of early childhood care and education, care of the elderly and the disabled, domestic workers and home-based working, social services, social security and seasonal agricultural workers. Flexibilization is planned to be realized through temporary employment agencies to join the work force especially for disadvantaged groups like women and the youth.

Social policies do not encourage the women to work

Dedeoğlu stated that especially undeclared home-based women workers and homeworkers are aimed to be taken under the record and pointed out that this is envisioned to be realized by women self-insuring themselves. Dedeoğlu noted that maternity leave is can be used only by some women, childcare services are designed only through the kindergartens and preschools of the Ministry of Education, and that these do not remove the barriers to women’s employment in practice.

Dedeoğlu emphasized that the retirement age and insurance premium days are increased and women’s burden who work both at work and at home is increased by spreading it to many years. Dedeoğlu also stated that social services are designed with the idea of “prosperous society of happy individuals and strong families”.

Nurseries are important for the liberation of women

In the discussion session held after the panel, following issues were discussed: seasonal agricultural women workers, domestic workers, workers’ health and work safety, women having the burden of childcare and the insufficiency of institutional services, flexibilization increasing the gendered domestic division labor, women’s labor regarded as unqualified, the insufficiency and ineffectiveness of projects for women’s employment.

It was stated that the working conditions of seasonal agricultural workers has to be discussed more, it was suggested that this sector in which women are dominant may be considered to be a sector of women. It was remarked that childcare and children’s education services which are designed for employment should be rearranged for women and men workers, and it was emphasized that widespread access to nurseries is a crucial step for the liberation of women, regardless of the fact that they are employed or unemployed.

The report can be accessed through the following links:

Women’s Labor and Employment in Turkey within the Clamps of Flexibilization and Informalization: An analysis within the Framework of Policy Texts

Trends of Precarization in Women’s Employment and Atypical Employment Agenda 

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