The Activities of Female Politicians in Turkey: The Examples of the AKP and the CHP

Author : Şebnem CANSUN --
Number of pages : 283-302


Are there differences between the activities of women in right-wing parties and left-wing parties? This article pursues this question by focusing on two ideologically opposed parties in Turkey, the AKP (Adalet ve Kalkınma Partisi, The Justice and Development Party) and the CHP (Cumhuriyet Halk Partisi, The Republican People’s Party). The AKP declares itself to be both conservative and democratic while the CHP declares itself to be both secular and social democratic. These two parties win most of the votes in Turkey. The AKP has headed a single-party government since 2002, which has result in the CHP as operating the main opposition party ever since. The data come from the party publications, two newspapers with opposing ideological perspectives as well as 53 interviews conducted at different party levels with both male and female politicians. The work of the women in both parties has two main areas of focus. Firstly, women are involved in charity work. This work does not just concentrate on women but on families, especially disadvantaged families, all age groups and both genders included. Secondly, female members of the AKP are generally concerned with the protection of traditional family values, whereas those of the CHP are concerned with the defense of gender equality and secularism. However, as far as the home visits, training and other organizations directed towards women are concerned, the AKP and the CHP are very much similar. This is not surprising at all, because several facts, such as the influence of Islam, the Mediterranean culture, the rapidly growing economy and the Turkish political culture in general, influence both of the parties the same way.


AKP, CHP, JDP, RPP, female politicians, women’s auxiliaries

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