Women in Turkish politics

Women in Turkey have an active participation in national politics, and the number of women in the Turkish parliament has been increasing steadily in recent elections.


Hatı Çırpan, one of the first women in the Parliament of Turkey.

The Republic of Turkey was founded on the ashes of the Ottoman Empire on 29 October 1923. Although the political power of some Valide Sultans (queen mothers) over the Ottoman Sultans was considerable, especially during the era known as the Sultanate of Women, women had no chance to serve in any official political post in the Ottoman era.

One notable female political activist in the first days of the Republican era was Nezihe Muhittin, who founded the first women's party in Turkey in June 1923; however, it was never legalized because the Republic was not officially declared yet. Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic initiated a series of reforms to modernize the country, including civil and political equality for women for the first time. On 17 February 1926, Turkey adopted a new civil code by which the rights of Turkish women and men were declared equal except in suffrage.[1] After a short but intense struggle, Turkish women achieved voting rights in local elections by Act no. 1580 on 3 April 1930.[2] Four years later, through legislation enacted on 5 December 1934, they gained full universal suffrage, earlier than most other countries.[2]

Local government[edit]

The first female muhtar (village head) in Turkey was Gülkız Ürbül, who became the muhtar of Demircidere village (now Karpuzlu) in the Çine district of Aydın Province in 1933. In the elections, she ran against seven male candidates.[3] The first female city mayor was Müfide İlhan, who was elected as the mayor of Mersin in 1950.

In parliament[edit]

In the general elections held on 8 February 1935, 17 women deputies entered the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM), the Turkish parliament. These were: Mebrure Gönenç, Sabiha Gökçül Erbay, Şekibe İnsel, Huriye Baha Öniz, Fatma Şakir Memik, Nakiye Elgün, Fakihe Öymen, Hatı Çırpan, Ferruh Güpgüp, Bahire Bediş Morova Aydilek, Mihri Pektaş, Meliha Ulaş, Fatma Esma Nayman, Sabiha Görkey, Seniha Hızal, Benal Nevzat İstar Arıman, and Türkan Örs Baştuğ. As a result of the by-election in 1936, Hatice Özgener also entered parliament, increasing the number of women to 18.[4]

Among these 18 names, Hatı Çırpan (nicknamed Satı Kadın) was especially notable, as she was from a rural area.

1935–1991 elections[edit]

The first female MPs of the Turkish Parliament, elected with the 8 February 1935 general elections. Top row (left to right): Mebrure Gönenç (Afyon), Hatı Çırpan (Ankara), Türkan Örs Baştuğ (Antalya), Sabiha Gökçül Erbay (Balıkesir), Şekibe İnsel (Bursa), Hatice Özgener (Çankırı)
Middle row (left to right): Huriye Baha Öniz (Diyarbakır), Fatma Şakir Memik (Edirne), Nakiye Elgün (Erzurum), Fakihe Öymen (Ankara), Benal Nevzat İstar Arıman (İzmir), Ferruh Güpgüp (Kayseri)
Bottom row (left to right): Bahire Bediş Morova Aydilek (Konya), Mihri Pektaş (Malatya), Meliha Ulaş (Samsun), Fatma Esma Nayman (Seyhan), Hatice Sabiha Görkey (Sivas), Seniha Nafız Hızal (Trabzon)

Following the promising 1935 start, however, the number of women in the parliament began to decrease.[5] The minimum number was 2 women members (in 1954), but it did not improve by much in the following elections up to 1991.

Leyla Zana, a member of People's Labor Party in the Turkish parliament in 1991.
Year No of Women MP Ratio to total
1935 18 4.6 %
1939 15 3.8 %
1943 16 3.7 %
1946 9 2 %
1950 3 0.6 %
1954 2 0.7 %
1957 7 1.3 %
1961 3 0.7 %
1965 8 1.8 %
1969 5 1.1 %
1973 6 1.3 %
1977 4 0.9 %
1983 12 3 %
1987 6 1.3 %
1991 8 1.8 %

1995–2015 elections[edit]

Since 1995, the number of women in the parliament has been continually on the rise. The 1935 percentage of women, the first year that women were able to be elected to parliament, was surpassed no earlier than in 1999.[6]

Year No of Women MP Ratio to total
1995 13 2.4%
1999 22 4 %
2002 24 4.4 %
2007 46 9 %
2011 78 14 %
2015 97 17.7 %
2015 (2.term) 82 14.9 %

Members of the Senate[edit]

The Grand National Assembly of Turkey had a Senate (upper house) between 1961 and 1980. The following women were elected as the senators:

Women's parties[edit]

Two parties were founded by women: National Women's Party of Turkey in 1972 (up to 1980) and Women's Party (Turkey) in 2014

Party leaders[edit]

First female Turkish party leader was Behice Boran (1910–1987). A member of the Workers Party of Turkey (TİP), she was elected as the chairman of the party in 1970 and continued in this post until all the political parties were closed following the September 11, 1980 military coup.[12] Other female party leaders were:

Vice-speakers of parliament[edit]

Up to the present, there have been no female speakers of parliament in Turkey. The first female vice-speaker was Nermin Neftçi of National Reliance Party in 1972.[13] In 2007–2015 term there were two female vice-speakers: Meral Akşener (Nationalist Movement Party) [14] and Güldal Mumcu (Republican People's Party).[15] In 2011 Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı of Justice and Development party (AKP) also was elected as one of the vice speakers.

Parliamentary group vice chairwomen[edit]

According to the Turkish constitution, each party with over twenty seats forms a parliamentary group and each group is represented by 1–3 group vice chairpersons (Turkish: grup başkan vekili) who are authorized to represent, in general terms, the relevant party in the parliament both in relation to the parliament administration and in relations with other party groups, as well as presiding the parliamentary group in the absence of the party president. The first female group vice chairperson in Turkish parliament was Oya Araslı of the Republican People's Party between 1996 and 1999.[16] Later, there were two parliamentary group chairwomen in parliament: Emine Ülker Tarhan of the Republican People's Party and Pervin Buldan of the Peace and Democracy Party.[17]

Prime Minister[edit]

Tansu Çiller, a career professor of economics since 1983, entered politics in November 1990, joining the conservative True Path Party) (DYP). On June 13, 1993, she was elected the party's leader, and on 25 June the same year, Çiller was appointed the Prime Minister of a coalition government, becoming Turkey's first and only female prime minister to date. She served at this post until 6 March 1996.

Government ministers[edit]

The first female Turkish government minister was Türkân Akyol, in 1971. She was the Minister of Health in Nihat Erim's technocratic government.[18][19] In 1983, she was one of the founders of SODEP, short for Social Democracy Party, a new party which went on to become one of the major political parties of Turkey in 1980s.

Female government ministers up to the present are as follows:

Name Ministry Party
Türkân Akyol (1928–2017) Minister of Health and Social Security (1971–1971)[18]
Minister of State (Family) 1992–1993
(non partisan)
Nermin Neftçi (1924–2003) Minister of Culture (1974–1975)[19] CGP
İmren Aykut (born 1940) Minister of Labour and Social Security (1987–1991)
Minister of State (1991 and 1996),
Minister of Environment (1997–1999)[20]
Güler İleri (born 1948) Minister of State (1991–1993)[19] SHP
Aysel Baykal (1939–2003) Minister of State (1995–1995)[21] CHP
Önay Alpago (born 1947) Minister of State (1994–1995)[19] SHP
Işılay Saygın (born 1947) Minister of State (1995–1996)
Minister of Environment (1996),
Minister of Tourism (1996)[19]
Ayfer Yılmaz (born 1956) Minister of State (1996–1997)[19] DYP
Tansu Çiller (born 1946) Minister of Foreign Affairs (1996–1997)[19] DYP
Meral Akşener (born 1956) Minister of Interior (1996–1997)[19] DYP
Tayyibe Gülek (born 1968) Minister of State (1999–2002)[19] DSP
Melda Bayer (born 1950) Minister of State (1999–2002)[19] DSP
Aysel Çelikel (born 1933) Minister of Justice (2002)[19][22] (non partisan)
Güldal Akşit (born 1960) Minister of Tourism (2002–2003)
Minister of State (2003–2007)[19]
Nimet Baş (born 1965) Minister of State (2003–2007)
Minister of National Education (2009–2011)[19]
Selma Aliye Kavaf (born 1962) Minister of State (2009–2011)[19] AKP
Fatma Şahin (born 1966) Minister of Family and Social Policies (2011–2013)[23] AKP
Ayşenur İslam (born 1958) Minister of Family and Social Policies (2013–2015) AKP
Ayşen Gürcan (born 1963) Minister of Family and Social Policies (2015) (non partisan)
Beril Dedeoğlu (born 1961) Minister of European Union (2015) (non partisan)
Fatma Betül Sayan Kaya (born 1981) Minister of Family and Social Policy y (2016–2018 ) AKP
Jülide Sarıeroğlu (born 1979) Minister of Labour and Social Security (2017–2018 ) AKP
Zehra Zümrüt Selçuk (born 1979) Minister of Labour, Social Services and Family (2018– ) (non partisan)

The abbreviations are as follows

CGP: Republican Reliance Party
ANAP: Motherland Party
SHP: Social Democratic Populist Party
CHP: Republican People's Party
DYP: True Path Party
DSP: Democratic Left Party
AKP: Justice and Development Party


As of July 2016, there have not been any female presidents of Turkey.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Sina Akşin:Kısa Türkiye Tarihi, Türkiye İş bankası Kültür yayınları,İstanbul,2011,ISBN 978-9944-88-172-2 p.188.
  2. ^ a b Türkiye'nin 75 yılı , Tempo Yayıncılık, İstanbul, 1998, p.48,59,250
  3. ^ Milliyet newspaper (in Turkish)
  4. ^ Hacettepe University Page (in Turkish)
  5. ^ Hürriyet newspaper (in Turkish)
  6. ^ An Afyon University paper by D. Ali Aslan (in Turkish)
  7. ^ "Tutanak C. Senatosu B: 36 18.1.1966 O:1" (PDF) (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  8. ^ "TİP'li Fatma İşmen'in ölümü". Milliyet (in Turkish). 2006-05-18. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  9. ^ "C. Senatosu B: 53 29.4.1975 O: 1" (PDF) (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  10. ^ Biography net (in Turkish)
  11. ^ "82nci Birleşim" (PDF). Cumhuriyet Senatosu Tutanak Dergisi (in Turkish). TBMM. 13. 23 Oct 1979. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  12. ^ T24 online newspaper
  13. ^ Hürriyet newspaper (in Turkish)
  14. ^ Parliament page/Meral Akşener (in Turkish)
  15. ^ Parliament page/Şükran Güldal Mumcu (in Turkish)
  16. ^ Radikal Newspaper (in Turkish)
  17. ^ Milliyet newspaper (in Turkish)
  18. ^ a b Türkiye'nin 75 yılı, Hürgüç Gazetecilik,, İstanbul,1998
  19. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n "Erkek egemen Türkiye". Hürriyet (in Turkish). 2010-12-11. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  20. ^ Babacan, Nuray (2012-02-06). "Eski Çalışma Bakanı'nı bile 'yeşil kart testi'ne çağırdılar". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  21. ^ "I. Çiller Hükümeti Bakanlar Kurulu 25.06.1993–05.10.1995" (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  22. ^ "Çelikel: F tipine insani çözüm". Hürriyet (in Turkish). Retrieved 2013-02-02.
  23. ^ "Türkiye Büyük Millet Meclisi 23. Dönem Milletvekili-Fatma Şahin" (in Turkish). TBMM. Retrieved 2013-02-02.