Representation of females in public domain especially in politics has been the subject of debate for some time, and while the presence of women in politics has increased, gender inequality still exists. This research aims to examine the contribution of gender equality in politics and looks at three areas of political behavior: political preferences (vote choice and ideology), political participation (voting and campaign activity) and political engagement (interest, discussion, and persuasion) of women in Germany and Turkey. Furthermore, considers how public institutions pursue gender equality policies and the institutional mechanisms that support the development of effective policies. Existing literature will be analyzed to provide possible ways to resolve the issue of gender inequality in politics. The contribution of this research is towards a better understanding of the impacts of gender inequality in political institutions of Germany and Turkey. This research concludes that gender inequality in political institutions exists because of lack of awareness, unfair conditions, lack of inclusivity, stereotypes, and lack of support. It is necessary to introduce gender equality policies, inclusive programs, training, quotas, female-led committees, and campaigns to increase female participation in politics.
1 Introduction (500)
Gender inequality still prevails in significant aspects of society, and although women in all countries around the world virtually have voting rights, the degree of female representation in parliament varies widely across countries. Representation of females in public domain especially in politics has been the subject of debate for some time, and while the presence of women in politics has increased, gender inequality still exists.
Some studies have engaged the issue of gender inequality in politics over the past few years. The analysis of previous studies emphasized the socioeconomic factors, political factors and cultural factors (Malami, 1999, p. 236). One of the studies found cultural and political factors to be responsible for lack of female representation in politics but not the socioeconomic factors (Ruedin, 2012, p. 98) while the other studies focused on political variables alone (Oakes, 1993, p. 75). There tends to be a contradiction within the findings of the earlier reviews which warrants further research.
This research aims to examine the gender inequality in politics in Turkey and Germany and looks at three areas of political behavior: political preferences (vote choice and ideology), political participation (voting and campaign activity) and civic engagement (interest, discussion, and persuasion). Furthermore, this study will attempt to ascertain the possibilities for reducing gender inequality in politics.
This research will first draw upon the impacts of gender on Inequality in Politics in Germany and Turkey and will focus on the political behavior of women and men in the parliament of the two countries. The study will then progress towards analyzing the political preferences such as the ideology and vote choice of the individuals of both the states followed by an analysis of the political participation of the individuals. Civic engagement such as discussion, opinion, and interest of the individuals in Germany and Turkey will also be analyzed. The following paper aims to investigate how gender inequality in politics in Germany and Turkey can be reduced. Existing literature and findings will be examined to solve the issue of gender inequality in politics
The first section of this thesis begins with the current situation of gender inequality in both the countries and the impact which gender inequality has had on German and Turkish politics. The second section addresses the different areas of the political behavior of women and men in the parliament of the two countries (Gärtner, 2013, p. 580). In this section, Political preferences such as vote choice and ideology, political participation including voting and campaign activity as well as civic engagement have been analyzed. The third section presents discussion regarding the prospects to reduce gender inequality in politics in Germany and Turkey and includes the possible solution to the research question.
According to the Gender Equality Index of the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), Germany scores an average of 66.2 percent and ranks 12th among the twenty-eight European Union member states. The index shows that in comparison to other countries, Germany lags in achieving gender equality. Despite the pressure of civil society organizations, the federal government in Germany has not been able to effectively pursue equality policies (Parliament, 2015, p. 9). Women in Germany are still a minority when it comes to a decision making positions and their representation in parliament is still lagging. Compared to men, women have fewer career opportunities and have fewer pensions.
Turkey has made tremendous progress in areas such as human rights, protection for minorities, a guarantee of democracy since it became a candidate to join the European Union back in 1999. However, there are still some areas such as gender equality which require further development. The statistics show that among the 550 members of the Parliament in Turkey, only seventy-nine of them are women (Ay, 2012, p. 3). According to the Turkish Statistical Institute (TÜİK), the female representation in labor force is only 28 percent while that of men is 65 percent. It was also reported that the reason behind the inadequate female representation in the labor force directly proportionate to the education level of females (Ay, 2012, p. 55).
Germany has been ranked at 12th regarding gender equality in the Global Gender Gap Report by (Forum, 2017, p. 160). The report indicates that although economic opportunity and participation are high for women, there are other issues such as the salary gap between women and men which gives a mixed record to Germany. The attainment of education at tertiary and primary level by women is high along with labor force participation. The subject choices by females tend to be towards social sciences and humanities; however, males are indicated to choose hard sciences which explain why there is a huge salary gap. It has also been reported that the Federal Government initiated a campaign propelling females to opt for hard sciences such as engineering, biotechnology or other science-related subjects to counter the issue of salary and income gap. According to the survey, the labor force participation by females is 73.1 while that of males is 82.6; however, the estimated earned income by women is $39,621 while that of men is $58,129 (Forum, 2017, p. 160).
Gender Equality legislation was passed in 1949 and was amended in 1994 under the constitution. The primary example of the statute governing gender equality is the Federal Act on Equal Opportunities which was passed in 2001. There happens to be a 21% pay gap and to resolve this issue the German Government moved the Transparency of Remuneration Act in 2017. Moreover, there is a lack of female representation in the parliament and leadership positions. To resolve this issue the Act on Equal Participation of Women and Men in the public service as well as the private economy was set into motion. This legislation created a quota for females for the supervisory board as well as for upper-level management in numerous German companies. For encouraging female participation in parliament, the German political parties have established quotas for women. The Green Party of German Parliament introduced gifty percent quota for women in 1988. Other parties including the Christian Soziale Union and the Bavarian sister party also entered quotas for women in 2010. Freie Demokratische Partei or the FDP, however, has not yet introduced any quota for female representation in the party. According to the Inter-Parliamentary Union of Women survey, German parliament represented 32.2 percent of members in parliament (Ballington, 2009, p. 2).
Chancellor Angela Merkel has worked on improving the employment rate and female representation in the workforce, yet there has not been any work done to lower the pay gap. Women in Germany are restricted to lower paid careers such as nursing, social work or hairdressing, and the representation of females in the corporate fields is limited. Even the jobs that are dominated by women such as medical assistants and nursing are not well paid (Gärtner, 2013, p. 22). A study by the German Institute for Economic Research in Berlin reveals that females earn fifty percent less over their lives working than their male colleagues. The Policy on Gender Equality in German report indicates that women are less represented in economic decision making in public as well as private sectors. Multiple studies conducted by Ministry for Family Affairs, the European Commission, the Federal Statistical Office, the Federal and Senior Citizens, Women and Youth (BMFSFJ) have proven that there has been inequality in female representation in economic decision making (Parliament, 2015, p. 13). Women in Germany are still a minority when it comes to a decision making positions and their representation in parliament is still lagging. Compared to men, women have fewer career opportunities and have fewer pensions. The primary driver for the legislative laws and improvement in Germany has been the European Union equality policies. However, these laws have are not implemented in most workplaces.
The gender discrimination is rooted in the patriarchal culture of Turkey, and it has resulted in gender inequality in not only the domestic but social life of women in Turkey. The country has gone through tremendous political and social revolution which has enhanced female and male equality to some degree and restructured the legal system. However, there are some issues which have not been addressed. Nevertheless, the Government of Turkey has emphasized the equality between men and women in the constitution and has taken necessary measures by introducing new legislation in the Turkish Civil Code (Sanbonmatsu, 2002, p. 78).
The Civil Code has given free consent for marriage and has raised the legal age of marriage for women from fifteen to seventeen. The law states that the individuals below the age of 17 are not eligible for marriage. The bill also allows the spouses to choose their occupation freely and has allowed the surviving spouses to demand inheritance. The Family Protection Law, which was introduced in 1998 and amended in 2007, has further given women protection from abusive husbands. The new Turkish Penal Code has also abolished violence against women.
Factors leading towards the lack of female representation in the Turkish Parliament include the dormant participation of women in politics or social life (Ayata, 2008, p. 366). The cultural factors also lead towards underrepresentation of Turkish women in politics as the women are expected to preserve domestic life. Moreover, socio-economic factors, political orientation, gender role socialization, and human capital also affect the female representation in the Turkish parliament.
According to the report by UNESCO, the education opportunities provided to girls in Turkey are inadequate as more than 42% of Kurdish girls have the only primary level education while the number of illiteracy for girls is increasing (Ramazan Kilinç, 2017, p. 401). Due to socio-economic marginalization, the majority of females are not even able to obtain proper schooling. Kilinç has stated that by looking at the cultural patterns in Turkey, it can be seen that the conflict which occurs between the Turkish state and the Kurds in Southeastern Turkey influences gender inequality in education (Ramazan Kilinç, 2017, p. 402). There is immense gender inequality in education in Turkey which leads to underrepresentation of women in the workforce, thus increasing the pay gap (Rankin, 2006, p. 31). Turkey has made a massive effort in achieving its educational goals as the literacy rate rose from 1935 to 1990 from 32 percent to 91 percent, from 9 percent to 70 percent for women and from 32 percent to 90 percent for men.
Women tend to be highly marginalized in the Turkish workforce because of the cultural backwardness and misconceptions as a majority of people disapprove of a woman’s paid work (Rankin, 2006, p. 32). Some parents consider education as execration to their religious beliefs as they fear that the school might corrupt their children specifically their daughters. The modern curriculum is often eyed as a threat to the traditional beliefs which, according to the parents, will erode the patriarchal control and family values in their daughters (Rankin, 2006, p. 33). These beliefs increase the gender inequality schooling which further enhances gender inequality in the labor market. Female participation in the workforce hinders by the gender roles perceived by the individuals. In Turkish culture, women are considered as housewives while men are given the responsibility of being the breadwinners of the family.
The representation of females in Turkish Parliament has increased gradually in the past few years as the percentage of female lawmakers increased to 17.8 percent with 102 female members in the 600 member assembly from the 13.8 percent in previous year. However, politics is considered as a male-dominated field in Turkey, and the activists have been calling for a reform in the laws to guarantee equal representation in policymaking (Ay, 2012, p. 45). The lack of education also poses a barrier for the political representation of women in Turkish politics. This is because there are less educated women who lead towards less representation. Another reason for less representation of women is the mentality that males should be dominant. Men are given more priority, and the majority of the women do not show any interest in a political career due to cultural backwardness. The laws have been amended to reduce gender inequality, however, the influence of society remains as a massive barrier for equal representation of women in parliament. The main reason behind this problem is that the majority of the Turkish population does not consider gender inequality as an issue (Ay, 2012, p. 48).
The gender inequality in Germany impacts the representation of women in political institutions because of the gender bias within the Parliament along the traditional gender perceptions. Previous researchers have found that women are more likely to peruse ‘nurturing’ side of the parliamentary work such as the welfare, education and family committees rather than participating in the decision-making process or leadership. Males in the German Parliament are allocated to decision making positions such as foreign policy, national policy, economics, and finance. The traditional norms in Germany profoundly impact the involvement of women in political institutions because the German Parliament is male dominated and it follows the conventional hierarchies of gender lines where females are assigned nurturing roles while the leadership roles are given to men (Coffé, 2010, p. 90). However, the German Parliament, which has been a masculine institution traditionally, has been challenged as females have started to participate more in political institutions. Women were given representation in political parties back in 1908 in Germany and were granted the right to vote as well as stand for elections ten years later. Since then, there has been a substantial increase in the number of females Members of Parliament; however, the German Parliament has not seen a massive increase in gender equality as compared to other European Union members like Sweden.
The gender bias and stereotypes still hinder the female representation in parliament, and despite the increasing number of women in parliament, women still lag behind men when it comes to equal representation. Women in Germany are still a minority when it comes to a decision making positions and their representation in parliament is still lagging. Compared to men, women have fewer career opportunities and have fewer pensions. The primary driver for the legislative laws and improvement in Germany has been the European Union equality policies. Due to issues such as gender pay gap, gender mainstreaming and socio-cultural factors, women are not given equal opportunities as men in Germany. The lack of female representation in parliament is due to the unequal access to public office. Moreover, women are more underrepresented in state parliaments as compared to the national level. Females have only thirty-one percent proportion in state parliaments, and females lead only three out of sixteen regional governments.
Due to limited child support system, inadequate education for girls, cultural beliefs and lack of opportunities, women in Turkey suffer from low representation in parliament. Women face discrimination in the workplace which leads them to stay away from work and into house chores. There are feeble opportunities for women to enter political institutions in Turkey. Females are mostly dependent on the income of their husbands because they have less social security and financial stability. Ayata states that even if the legislation changes and gives an equal quota to women for representation in parliament, female representation will still lag in political institutions because of perceptions and cultural backwardness (Ayata, 2008, p. 368). More than 80% of women work at home, and these women hardly get represented in parliament with a percentage of about 7%. Democracy happens to be correlated with gender equality, and to bring about justice in Turkey; balance should be implemented in family life first. However, men have given priority, and patriarchy influences the perceptions of individuals. This patriarchy influences gender inequality in female employment as well as representation in parliament. The cultural factors also lead towards underrepresentation of Turkish women in politics as the women are expected to preserve domestic life. Moreover, socio-economic factors, political orientation, gender role socialization, and human capital also affect the female representation in the Turkish parliament.
Moreover, there is immense gender inequality in education in Turkey which leads to underrepresentation of women in the workforce, thus increasing the pay gap (Rankin, 2006, p. 31). In a research conducted by Bahar Ay, it was revealed that although the exact reasons for less representation of females in parliament are not specific, however, the potential reasons lie in the lack of facilities and opportunities provided to women. Interviews conducted in research from women revealed that lack of education, household responsibilities of women, lack of opportunities, lack of parental leave for women are some of the factors contributing towards underrepresentation of women in politics (Ay, 2012, p. 55). Turkey has made a massive effort in achieving its educational goals as the literacy rate rose from 1935 to 1990 from 32 percent to 91 percent, from 9 percent to 70 percent for women and from 32 percent to 90 percent for men. The division of gender roles in Turkish culture leads to a lack of female representation in political institutions.
In a survey conducted by Inter-Parliamentary Union revealed that the priorities of men and women in parliament might differ as some of the respondents believed that the political preferences of men were different from that of women. Females responded that they felt that women bring diverse talents, perspectives and views to politics and they take issues concerning women more seriously and give them more priorities. There are specific shared concerns as well as experiences which women prioritize more as compared to men. The main concern of women in parliament is regarding the issues that directly impact women such as gender pay gap laws, domestic violence, parental leave, reproductive rights, work/life balance, health issues, etc. Several researchers have also highlighted that females are more aware of the needs of other individuals as compared to men and are more likely to prioritize the needs of other people such as the rights and obligations of the elderly, children, the disabled, women, disadvantaged and minorities. Male parliamentarians, on the other hand, consider their interests as already being represented in the decision-making process because their numbers are far higher in parliament as compared to the women. Due to less representation in parliament, women believe that they should promote women’s interests in the male-dominated parliament. It has been stated that many females agreed that they advocate for women’s rights because women are underrepresented in parliament as compared to males. The political behavior of men and women also depend on the party membership, and the variances in behavior result from the type of duties allotted to male and female parliamentarians (Sawer, 2000, p. 34).
In the past two decades, gender quotas in parliament and political institutions have been increased due to the enhancement in women’s representation in employment and labor market. This change in representation has been motivated by the concept that male and female political and policy preferences tend to be different and the female officials tend to be more willing to represent women as compared to men (Paolino, 1995, p. 299). However, due to the low participation of women in politics and the reluctance of men to vote for women has created gender inequality in political institutions and other social as well as economic domains.
The literature on gender gap points out that there is a massive difference in opinion between both genders when it comes to political preferences such as views regarding policies. Men and women differ in their vote choice as women tend to support policies that provide a social safety procedure and oppose the policies that threaten safety. Females are more likely to depend on the social safety net which is offered by welfare policies; thus they support social welfare policies more as compared to men. Fewer women join the labor force and therefore they are less likely to join trade unions which mean they are more likely to vote in the form of unions. Also, females tend to be more supportive of restrictions towards violence such as gun restriction and tend to be opposed to capital punishment.
A significant number of researchers argue that women as candidates can be just as successful as their male counterparts in the statewide and legislative elections (Kittilson, 2014, p. 218). The evidence provided by the majority of studies state that voter preferences are unhinged by the gender of the candidate (Sanbonmatsu, 2002, p. 20). However, some of the researchers state that there is a gender bias when it comes to political preferences and voter choice because people use the gender of the candidate to make assumptions about the political preferences, beliefs, and traits of the candidate.
For example, the majority of the voters perceive that men as candidates are better at taking care of foreign affairs and managing crime, while females are better in nurturing aspects like handling the welfare organizations or protecting the rights of minorities, disabled individuals and women. Koonz states that voters estimate the political preference of a candidate by the low-information shortcut technique in which they perceive and analyze the candidate according to gender stereotypes (Koonz, 1976). Koonz compared the perceptions of voters about the candidate’s preferences and ideology with that of the actual ideology of the candidate and found that voters tend to base their preferences according to stereotypes about the ideology of the candidate. For example, female candidates are perceived as being more liberal, possessing more feminine qualities and able to handle women’s rights issues well. Male candidates are perceived as right-wing leaders and are categorized as able to handle defense and foreign policy issues better. Individuals who conceive that men tend to be more suited for politics regarding mental and emotional ability are more likely to prefer a male candidate. Moreover, individuals who perceive that women are more likely to prefer policies in favor of female issues such as social security, gender pay gap and abortion prefer to vote for a female candidate.
Women in the political institutions usually serve on the subcommittees for education, religion, women affairs and minority rights. Koonz’s research in Weimar Germany revealed that female candidates in favor of emancipation preferred not to masculinize their traits or interests but rather to feminize the political institutions instead. These female advocates argued that more women in politics would change the way the political process is done and will influence policymaking. Male parliamentarians, on the other hand, consider their interests as already being represented in the decision-making process because their numbers are far higher in parliament as compared to the women. Moreover, the research also revealed that the middle-class female advocates preferred to have a reform in the German political system which they believed to be materialistic and patriarchal. Women are perceived as a particular constituency by the female candidates who believe that the female rights can only be represented as other women (Koonz, 1976, p. 647).
The balanced participation of males and females in the public decision-making process and political institutions is a key to achieving justice and democracy. However, according to the European Council, the regional, local and national executive positions are still occupied by men in major countries of Europe (Commission, 2016, p. 60). Not even ten percent of the respondent states have met the forty percent target set by the Council of Europe. An analysis from the year 2005 to 2016 shows that in some cases the percentages of females have increased in executive positions, mostly in regional government, however, the target has not been achieved systematically. This underrepresentation of females among heads of regional governments and states remains problematic. Moreover, the political participation of women is highly influenced by feminist ideology along with the influence of liberal and conservative ideology (Fulenwider, 1981, p. 18).
An increasing number of studies have sought to investigate how the gender of the candidate affects his or her political participation and how well do the candidates of different genders prepare for their campaign. Fulton has stated in his research that women face double standards as well as gender stereotypes in the media coverage of their campaign; however, there is no evidence that suggests that females lag behind men in terms of vote totals or fundraising (Fulton, 2012, p. 308). The main reason behind the gender parity in the areas of vote totals and fundraising is that females tend to run in the race for a seat in parliament which they stand a better chance of succeeding.
The candidates that run for office and the public view female candidates at a disadvantage as compared to men and also perceive that females are less qualified to participate in politics (Dowling C, 2015, p. 66). The main stereotype that drives a wedge between male and female candidates in terms of political participation and ambition is the widely held belief that women make bad candidates. However despite the stereotypes, the female candidates that do decide to run for office raise much more money during campaigns than men.
Koonz’s research in Weimar Germany revealed that the most significant difference between male and female delegates lies in the campaign activity and the division of their political preferences along the gender lines. This division in political preferences and interests lies in the campaign appeals of female and male candidates. Campaign appeals to female voters from the candidate promised the betterment of education, social security, housing, gender pay gap and condemned violence, vice and lack of morality. Moreover, campaign for female voters also included promises regarding solidification of the family unit and a promise for policies regarding the decrease in food prices.
Female candidates face many gender-related disadvantages while campaigning and still perform comparably equal to men. For example, despite the gender gap, women look towards moving up in the career from the legislature to parliament and display more strategic behavior as compared to men when entering the race for the membership of parliament. According to a survey, women spend more hours working on their campaigns as compared to men. It was also stated in the research that the reason why women work harder than men while campaigning lies in the belief that they must overcome any form of gender-based disadvantage that they might face. As a result, women attempt to overcome the stereotypes by being better at campaigning (Ruedin, 2012, p. 79).
The gender preference of voters affects their decision in choosing the candidate because gender stereotypes affect the preference of male or female candidates. For example, Paolino found in his research that individuals who felt it was crucial to elect more females in the Senate were more likely to vote for the female candidates. The findings of Paolino revealed that voter behavior is influenced by the attitudes toward the female candidates. Women are likely to vote for female candidates as compared to men (Paolino, 1995, p. 298). According to Koonz, the gender of the voter and stereotypes about the beliefs and traits explain gender-based voting behavior. Moreover, the male and female candidates view politics differently and respond to issues on a different level which is why voter behavior varies according to gender preference (Koonz, 1976, p. 667).
When the political engagement of men and women is examined, individuals tend to conceptualize the aspect too narrowly by looking at it on a one-dimensional scale only. It is a common belief that women participate less in politics, however, according to Harrison and Munn, women do not engage less, but rather, they engage in politics differently than men (Harrison L, 2007, p. 429). Although there is a gender gap when it comes to political engagement, however, the factors involved in mediating this gap might not be consistent. For example, if decision making procedure is taken as a factor and it is stated that women are not engaged in decision-making method, then the same cannot be said about discussion because the majority of women on social media platforms, television, articles and in parliament are often engaged in political discussion and debates.
Thus if one factor can clearly explain the gender gap in one area, then it is not sure that the same factor is applicable in the other area. Just like the gender gaps in the participation of males and females, differences in the types of political engagement women and men engage in might be related to political views, gender roles, and resources. Women participate more in discussion and decision making procedure in ways which can be taken as part of their daily lifestyle which does not relatively put a strain on their private sphere. It has been found in the research by Coffé, that women are more likely to sign boycotts or petitions for political purposes and to donate money for political or social groups than men (Coffé, 2010, p. 321).
Moreover, it was also found that if women develop interest towards politics, then they are more likely to vote and participate as compared to men. The political engagement of men and women is often subjected to stereotypes and public portrayals which suggest that change in attitudes affect political involvement. Several studies have indicated that the awareness regarding the social and political problems leads to more involvement. There are aspects of a political engagement where males are more likely to be more involved than females. Research suggests that men more actively participate in collective activism, parliament membership, and political contact. Although there are cases in which the gender gap reduces, however, it appears that men are more involved in becoming party members.
Women do not actively engage in political party meetings because such kind of participation requires money as well as time which is why men are more likely to contact politicians, join demonstrations and attend political meetings than women. Married women often engage in contact with a broader audience through the internet or newspapers in which they will be able to share their opinion while managing a home life as well rather than going to political party meetings which are more time-consuming. Women participate more in non-institutional kind of political activism, and recent research acknowledges the importance of the non-institutional form of involvement which can influence political outcomes (Ayata, 2008, p. 378).
There is less political involvement by women when it comes to local offices because most of the gender quotas are available only for national level political institutions which leave out many female aspirants who lack resources at a disadvantage. Quotas should be made available at the local level as well so that political participation can be enhanced. Moreover, political awareness campaigns and programs should be initiated to provide women with skills and confidence to start their political campaign. There is often less support for females in local elections because the general public overlooks the political engagement of women.
Voters should be made aware of the advantages of female representatives in the parliament and gender equality in political institutions. Female representatives of the parliament should also be trained regarding their civic duties and leadership to make sure that the future generations are more inclusive towards female representation in political institutions (Ballington, 2009, p. 23). Political engagement of women can also be increased by creating a cross-party representation of women. Majority of females in parliament lack the power to influence their male members because they do not have the support of other members due to lack of networking. This is why it is necessary to encourage the creation of caucuses having female members which can contribute towards female legislators.
To reduce the gender gap in politics, a congressional action must be taken to make parliaments more gender sensitive in Germany and Turkey. In a survey conducted by Inter-Parliamentary Union from parliamentary members of the countries in the European Council, it was revealed that there are certain priority areas through which members of the parliament can become more sensitive towards the needs of women (Balington, 2008, p. 83). A structural change within the parliament is needed to bolster the existing committees on the caucuses of women parliamentarians. A female parliamentarian explained that she would recommend establishing a woman’s affair committee in which men would be members. This way the committee would be like a monitoring process for gender equality in political institutions. Such kind of committees can be developed in Turkish and German parliaments to address gender inequality (Balington, 2008, p. 84).
The parliament of Turkey and Germany should set up their committee that will oversee that the principles of gender equality are being addressed adequately and set an evaluation criterion. A change in administrative facilities and process will also reduce gender inequality in Turkish and German political institutions. This can be done by enabling parliaments to be more accommodating for women through timetable changes and procedural changes. If women feel that they can manage family life as well as work life more comfortable, then they are more likely to join political institutions. More flexible hours allow women to address personal needs and to balance work life as well. Furthermore, training, networking, research, and inclusive programs are needed to reduce gender inequality in politics.
More than twenty-five percent of the members of parliaments around the globe are women. However, this number is not growing fast enough which requires more efficient ways in which this problem can be addressed (Freidenvall, 2013, p. 12). One such method is the gender quota in which can curb the under-representation of women. Gender quotas have been introduced in many countries around the world to balance the gender inequality in parliament and other political institutions. There are two mains areas in which gender quotas are implemented: party quotas, which are the voluntary quotas and the legislated quotas which are the legal ways of implementing quotas (Freidenvall, 2013, p. 14). The legislative quotas are applied with the use of electoral laws and reforms which sometimes involve constitutional changes as well. The constitutional changes require that all of the parties should nominate women as candidates to a certain proportion. The voluntary quotas by the political parties, on the other hand, are the commitments which the political party members make for the election of female candidates. Party statutes are used to implement party quotas through party rules and additional programs. The quotas can be used to select elected representatives, aspirants and candidates (Dowling C, 2015, p. 59).
When it comes to the decision-making process in assemblies, women are still not represented inequality in Turkey and Germany. It is also essential to keep the electoral systems under an order because sometimes the quota provisions do not include rank and order rules related to how the candidates will be placed. This creates a problem for the placement of the candidates as the quota system without the rules becomes ineffective. Female candidates who get placed at the bottom of the list of the quota system without rank order rules do not get elected often.
Sweden ranks on top when it comes to representation of women in political institutions while Turkey is placed at 101 out of 150 countries which shows that Turkey lags behind in gender equality in parliament. Only two parties in Turkey have provided gender quotas to women which makes it only 14 percent of female representation (Rasmussen, 2014, p. 41). Thus two political parties providing quotas for female candidates are not enough on gender equality scale. Turkey has been represented as a secular state, and the main issue lies in the political system which is dominated by men. It is necessary to ensure that every politician in Turkey offers gender quotas for women to resolve the issue. In case of Germany, the political party quotas have been introduced as the standard policy for parties, and in Sweden, the zipper system was launched in 2011 by the Social Democratic Party which completely revolutionized the quota system. The zipper system works on the principle of altering the members so that men and women receive the full chance of securing seats.
The political parties alternate the quotas for men and women which results in half the candidates were women and half of them being men. This policy allows the political parties in Sweden to balance the representation of men and women. The Greens Party or the Bündnis party in Germany introduced a fifty percent quota for females back in 1986, and other parties like the Left Party or the Die Linkspartei followed the example by increasing the quota as well. In 2015, a law passed which required all the companies in Germany that were market listed to have at least a thirty percent quota for women on the decision-making board. This law, however, came into force one year later, and Germany was the last country in the European Union to implement it (Parliament, 2015, p. 89). This shows that the implementation of the law and quota policies is equally as important. Moreover, political parties should not only provide the same quota to women, but they should also empower women to have an influence in decision-making procedures and political agendas because political parties are responsible for providing a link between civilians and government.
Gender equality in parliaments and the decision-making process is not often implemented. In order to avoid non-compliance by the individuals involved, it is necessary to apply sanctions and take measures that will ensure that there are no barriers between men and women in decision-making processes. The first step towards ensuring equal participation is by enhancing the number of women in the decision-making process. A study conducted by the United Nations Division for the Advancement of Women pointed out some factors which are responsible for enhancing the participation of women in the decision-making process. The electoral system is the first factor which directly impacts female participation in decision-making positions (Ruedin, 2012, p. 98). The research revealed that the countries that have the highest representation of women in parliament use the proportional representation system or the PR system.
The proportional representation system helps parties to balance not only the number of seats allotted each election but also fulfills the demand of having more equality in the decision-making process. The majoritarian system, on the other hand, only allows one candidate to be nominated in one district which makes it difficult for the parties to choose and overwhelms them. Thus in order to not facilitate any barrier between men and women in decision-making processes, the government of Germany and Turkey should adopt the proportional representation system which allows parties to choose equally among the male and female candidates (Rasmussen, 2014, p. 83).
Another barrier between the equal representation of men and women in decision-making processes is the structure of political parties. There is a huge impact which the culture of the political party has on the number of women joining the party. There are several types of political parties, and each type has a specific effect and influence on the females within the party (Ababa, 2005, p. 15). The experts have stated that patronage and clientelistic parties have poorly organized internal procedure which has rules that are not followed and most of the decision making is done only by those at the hierarchy, who are mostly men. These kinds of political parties make it hard for women to influence or take part in any decision making process.
Moreover, women are often discouraged to step forwards as candidates even if they possess the right traits and qualifications as men. Sometimes females perceive themselves as lacking the right skills for the job because of stereotypes and become hesitant in voicing their concerns regarding any policy during the decision-making process (Ababa, 2005, p. 17). There are other factors which restrain women from participating actively in the decision-making process. Some women lack financial resources as well as the time needed for campaigning due to which it becomes difficult for them to seek decision making positions. Moreover, the environment of the parliament or the political parties is not gender friendly which often makes it difficult for women.
It is necessary to train and develop the men and women in order for them to be aware of what the procedure is for attaining decision making positions and running for office. Majority of females have less experience regarding campaigning and are unaware of the type of resources that are required for campaigning. This is why it is necessary for Turkey and Germany to develop social programs through which women gain training regarding running for political office and gain skills required for dealing with campaign issues (Sanbonmatsu, 2002, p. 23). These kinds of training programs should also be available for men so that they can gain awareness regarding gender equality in politics. Other mechanisms needed for promoting female representation in politics include quotas in the majoritarian systems which facilitates female participation in decision-making process. In addition to national policies, international institutions related to the political rights and involvement of women in parliament should be consulted. The governments of Turkey and Germany should seek to achieve equality in politics between men and women in all of the decision making positions through the establishment of incremental policies and electoral reform.
Experts view women associations and movements as the critical processes for enhancing the representation of women in decision making positions and parliament. Support for female candidates can be improved by improving a number of female legislators. Female activists can network well within the political parties with other female members in order to ensure that there is an equal female representation of women within the party. This places pressure on the members of the political party to provide fair representation to women and men. Moreover, women in the political institutions usually serve on the subcommittees for education, religion, women affairs and minority rights. Women within these subcommittees should be encouraged to participate in the decision-making process and to network with other women to lobby for gender equality within their political party and the parliament (Dowling C, 2015, p. 54).
It is essential to encourage the women’s associations and networks to lobby for equality of female representation in constitution making procedures. Female presence in the executive and legislative branch is necessary politically. Women aid the constitutional making process by representing feminine values and concerns which makes the constitution just and equal for all the citizens. Experts have pointed out that females in executive positions collaborate as well as individually and help in the implementation of the constitutional laws lobbied by the female advocates and legislators. This way the policies which have been devised by gender equality procedures can be implemented (Irving, 2017, p. 23).
However, females are not represented equally in constitutional development procedures because the female MPs are often given social welfare, health, environment, or education related work. Gender equality is not given importance by the government which is why females are usually not present in international, financial or peace negotiations, delegations or institutions. Women should be encouraged to be part of committees that are involved in writing and revising legal codes and policies. Ample of administrative support, training, guidance and financial resources are required to aid women in political participation effectively. There are many advantages to including women in constitution-making and the governments of Turkey and Germany should be made aware of these advantages in order to enhance participatory constitution making. The more inclusive the constitution-making process is, the more it is likely to be legitimized and accepted by the call.
The constitution will get approved by the group representing the policies if all the representatives of those groups are involved in the constitution-making procedure. Moreover, the more inclusive the constitution-making process is, the more sustainable it becomes over time. Studies have revealed that constitutional survival and self-enforcement is more likely to occur when the participation by the public is high while formulating the constitution (Irving, 2017, p. 22). Furthermore, women should be given incentives for participation in the constitution-making process other than just quotas or party tokens.
Although political party quotas do enhance the number of women participating in the constitution-making process, in many cases, however, females have difficulty overcoming their perceived inefficiency and expertise. It is necessary to help women build strategic alliances and coalitions for gaining political authority. This involves networking with other female members of the parliament who are part of the constitution making process. Women should take part in constitution-making procedure and should be encouraged by the parliamentary committees which can provide political support to the existing female members and guidance regarding the necessary resources needed for the procedure. Civil society members should collaborate with female members of parliament in order to develop policies regarding the involvement of women in political institutions and for generating awareness regarding gender equality.
Female participation in the constitution-making is crucial because they bring valuable as well as unique expertise and knowledge and represent up to fifty percent of the population. Female movements, communities, and associations broaden the participation and inform the policymakers regarding their needs which ensure the efficacy of the constitution. Although public participation is being encouraged in the constitution-making process, there are some cases, however, in which women are unable to communicate their views or voice their concerns due to lack of resource or commitment (O’REILLY, 2018, p. 11). Encouragement must be given to women for participating in the constitution-making process by making them aware of the role they play in the process. Female members of the parliament can help advocate the rights of women and incorporate anti-discrimination policies within the constitution. Few legal mechanisms such as the provisions present in the UN Declaration of Human Rights, the Asian Charter of Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, etc. that can be used for encouraging female participation in the constitution-making process (O’REILLY, 2018, p. 14).
Constitutions can transform the way a country is governed and play multiple roles that have a significant impact on men and women’s social, economic and political equality. Constitutions are responsible for defining the hierarchy of a state, the distribution of power, protection of tights and recognition of the rights of the individuals in a state. The constitution is also a representation of democracy, history, values, and structure of governance. There have been constitutional amendments all around in the past few years which have led to better protection of the rights of minorities (Ayata, 2008, p. 369). Women’s rights have also been protected through amendments in constitutions throughout history. A constitution has the enormous transformative potential for the citizens of a state as it includes different provisions which contain enforceable and clear laws for the protection of rights (Allen, 2014, p. 18). There are numerous ways in which a constitution can contribute towards fair conditions for women in parliament. First, the constitution can promote as well as recognize equality within the parliament; it can change the law, add quotas for women in parliament and amend executive policies.
The process to gain fair elections is a difficult one in the constitutional and political history of Germany. Although the Article 38 of the Grundgesetz states also known as the Basic law of 1949, states that all the members of the German Parliament shall be chosen in the free, direct and general way and there shall be equal representation of people which will not be bound by instructions. However, the road to obtaining equality and fairness in the constitution was not easy for women, and there is an immense struggle which female candidates still have to go through in Germany. An act created by the Rat der Volksbeauftragten or the Council of People’s Deputies addressed the unfair conditions which females had to face and the Reichswahlgesetz, or the Electoral Law of the Empire was enforced in 1918 to end the gender inequality in the electoral process. However, the rights given to women were restricted after the National Socialists came into power three years later (Parliament, 2015, p. 51).
Females were not allowed to be part of the executive branch and were not allowed to be part of the decision making positions or the constitution making process. Eventually, one of the leading ladies who revolutionized German Constitution, Elisabeth Selbert, came forward in 1949 and stated that women and men are equal and this sentence should be a part of the Grundgesetz or the German Constitution. Although the concept of gender parity is a part of the German constitution, however, it is still not implemented and does not play a significant role in reducing unfair conditions within the German parliament. Gender should not just be a part of the constitution, but it should be integrated into the entire policy-making procedure because that is the only way through which gender inequalities can be eliminated. There should be a strict legal obligation present in the constitution which should ensure that gender equality is followed in all the aspects of policymaking (Freidenvall, 2013, p. 88).
It is necessary to assess the contribution of Constitution in gender equality and the role it can play to decrease unfair conditions for women in the parliament. In other words, if provisions regarding gender equality were not part of the constitution, then it would not have been easy to have fair conditions for men and women. However, only a few provisions of the constitution can not bring about a huge change which is why the embodiment of the principle of equality should be given due attention by the legislature as well. For example, Article 10 of the 1982 Constitution of Turkey states the general principles regarding rights, freedoms, and equality among citizens (KÜZECİ, 2008, p. 19). This demonstrates that the constitution of the Republic of Turkey is based on equality and it is the basis for removing gender inequality in political, social and economic fields; however, more work is required to eliminate the unfair conditions still present within the political system. The provisions of the constitution regarding gender equality cannot bring about revolutionary change, but they do act as a supplement in protecting the rights of women in political and administrative institutions.
This research examined the gender inequality in politics in Turkey and Germany and focused on three areas of political behavior: political preferences of women including vote choice, ideology, political participation including voting and campaign activity, civic engagement, interest, and discussion. Although the number of female representatives in political institutions of both the countries is increasing, the current level of women in parliaments is still at a deficit. Under-representation of women in political institutions is a grave concern because female representation is equally important to men as women can use the influence of their position to advocate rights for minorities and voice concerns regarding women’s rights. While female representatives in the parliament have proved themselves to be the most passionate defenders and promoters of issues concerning women and have redefined how political parties prioritize female perspectives, the decision making positions in political institutions, however, are not exclusive to women.
Turkey has made tremendous progress in areas such as human rights, protection for minorities, a guarantee of democracy since it became a candidate to join the European Union back in 1999. However, there are still some areas such as gender equality which require further development. Factors leading towards the lack of female representation in the Turkish Parliament include the dormant participation of women in politics or social life. The cultural factors also lead towards underrepresentation of Turkish women in politics as the women are expected to preserve domestic life. Moreover, socio-economic factors, political orientation, gender role socialization, and human capital also affect the female representation in the Turkish parliament. Another reason for less representation of women is the mentality that males should be dominant. Men are given more priority, and the majority of the women do not show any interest in a political career due to cultural backwardness.
The laws have been amended to reduce gender inequality in Turkey, the influence of society remains as a massive barrier for equal representation of women in parliament. The reason is that the majority of the Turkish population does not consider gender inequality as an issue. Compared to men, women have fewer career opportunities and have fewer pensions. The primary driver for the legislative laws and improvement in Turkey has been the European Union equality policies. Due to issues such as gender pay gap, gender mainstreaming and socio-cultural factors, women are not given equal opportunities as men in Turkey.
Recent literature regarding female participation in the parliament of Germany has revealed that women in Germany are underrepresented in decision-making positions and their representation in parliament is still lagging. Compared to men, women have fewer career opportunities and have fewer pensions. Males in the German Parliament are allocated to decision making positions such as foreign policy, national policy, economics, and finance. The traditional norms in Germany profoundly impact the involvement of women in political institutions because the German Parliament is male dominated and it follows the traditional hierarchies of gender lines where females are assigned nurturing roles while the leadership roles are given to men. However, the German Parliament, which has been a masculine institution traditionally, has been challenged as females have started to participate more in political institutions. The gender bias and stereotypes, however, still hinder the female representation in parliament, and despite the increasing number of women in parliament, women still lag behind men when it comes to equal representation.
Moreover, recent studies have found that there is a gender bias when it comes to political preferences and voter choice because people use the gender of the candidate to make assumptions about the political preferences, beliefs, and traits of the candidate. Majority of the voters perceive that men as candidates are better at taking care of foreign affairs and managing crime, while females are better in nurturing aspects like handling the welfare organizations or protecting the rights of minorities, disabled individuals and women. Although there have been significant steps taken regarding Germany and Turkey’s gender policy in the previous years, such as constitutional amendments and introduction of gender quotas, there is still need of speedy transformation within the political institutions. The public should be educated regarding the role of women in political institutions and constitution making, to raise awareness and to overcome prejudices as well as stereotypes. It is necessary to train and develop the men and women for them to be aware of what the procedure is for attaining decision making positions and running for office.
The accession process of Turkey to European Union has influenced it to apply the gender equality policies in political, economic and social spheres. The government of Turkey has made amendments in its Penal Code, the Civil Code and to the Constitution; however, the implementation of these provisions is still limited. The prevalent social practices and norms limit the female participation in political institutions in Turkey and issues such as pay gap, domestic violence, and gender inequality prevent women from exercising their rights that are present within the Constitution. Thus there is significant progress needed in the gender equality area which can be overcome through campaigns, women’s organization activities, training, and education. Germany has achieved some progress because of the improvement in the legislation regarding the equality laws; however, the gender equality policies still fall short of the required criteria set by the European Union. Female representatives of the parliament are still advocating for further progress and campaigns are being led by women regarding more female representation in politics. There is a strong need to address the issues regarding pay gap and low female participation in politics which is why further progress is needed by Germany to achieve equality at the European level criteria.
Political participation by women is the most significant form of manifestation of democracy in a country and not only demonstrates diversity but also ensures inclusivity for minority groups as well. It is necessary for women to have equal participation in politics for achieving sustainable development, equality, democracy and peace in a country. The experiences and perspectives which women provide in the decision-making process and constitution development represent a much larger society. European legislation has acted as the catalyst for legal improvements in anti-discrimination, gender equality and equal treatment in Germany and Turkey. The gender inequality can be reduced by taking congressional action, making parliaments sensitive towards gender equality, introducing structural change within the parliament and by providing flexible hours to women. More flexible hours allow women to address personal needs and to balance work life as well. Furthermore, training, networking, research, and inclusive programs are also needed.
Majority of females have less experience regarding campaigning and are unaware of the type of resources that are required for campaigning. This is why it is necessary for Turkey and Germany to develop social programs through which women gain training regarding running for political office and gain skills required for dealing with campaign issues. These kinds of training programs should also be available for men so that they can gain awareness regarding gender equality in politics. Other mechanisms needed for promoting female representation in politics include quotas in the majoritarian systems which facilitates female participation in decision-making process. In addition to national policies, international institutions related to the political rights and involvement of women in parliament should be consulted. The governments of Turkey and Germany should seek to achieve equality in politics between men and women in all of the decision making positions through the establishment of incremental policies and electoral reform. There should be a reorganization of the decision-making process and policies in Turkey and Germany so that they can be better adapted towards gender equality. To not facilitate any barrier between men and women in decision-making processes, the government of Germany and Turkey should adopt the proportional representation system which allows parties to choose equally among the male and female candidates.
The limitation of this study is the time constraints and lack of generalizability. Moreover, this study included a systematic review of the previous studies and cannot eliminate any form of bias which might be persistent in the original literature.
Future researchers should compare other countries and examine the extent to which the female representatives in parliaments are given decision making positions compared to their male colleagues. There are very few studies regarding the communication between women politicians and the mass media and how this communication can aid women in their campaigns. A politician requires feedback and positive response from the media which can aid women in their campaigns. Furthermore, more research is required regarding the gender stereotypes and the impact they have on voter’s gender preferences.
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