"Women's rights should be right at the top of the agenda for the negotiations with Turkey", says Parliaments Women's Rights Committee in a report adopted on Thursday 26 May.
Women's rights and gender equality are embedded in the Community's basic principles and in much legislation which Turkey has to accept if it is to join the EU. MEPs emphasise that Turkey's "progress in the field of legalisation now needs to be implemented in practice".
The committee's report, drafted by Emine BOZKURT (PES, NL), which followed on from a hearing held on 16 March this year, was adopted by 27 votes to 0, with 4 abstentions.
The report emphasises the key role of civil society in pushing for the recent legislative reforms. MEPs believe that the entire political class as well as grassroots organisations, religious communities and the media must be involved if democratic change is to be achieved.
Violence against women is another issue raised in the report. MEPs call on the Turkish Government to take action to protect women at risk, such as providing easily accessible healthcare and legal support and protection. According to local NGOs, in 1995 almost all women living in slum areas of Ankara had experienced domestic violence, while of 1,259 women interviewed between 1990 and 1996, 88% claimed to be living in a violent environment.
Among other concerns are the involvement of Turkish women in politics, which remains weak, (only 4.4% of members of parliament are women and around 1% of representatives at local level), access to education and the low number of women active on the labour market. According to the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living Conditions, only 27 percent of women in Turkey are currently employed.
The committee urges Turkey to ratify the Additional Protocol No. 12 to the European Convention on Human Rights which deals with preventing discrimination. Finally, MEPs say that they intend to monitor the situation of women in Turkey closely and report on it annually through the EP Women's Rights Committee. They call on the European Commission to do the same.
Published in: "Turkey Urged to Enforce Legislation on Women's Rights," Europarl, 27 May 2005.