Abstract This article addresses the social policy agenda on women, family, and work to highlight where Turkey is positioned in the European social policy realm regarding gender and employment. The article first discusses on what grounds Turkey has been largely included in the Southern European welfare regime category by placing an emphasis on familialism inherent in the regulations. Secondly, policy implementations in Turkey from 1980s up to present particularly regarding maternal employment are critically discussed. It is argued that regardless of the differences between Turkey and the other countries implementing Southern European welfare regulations, particularly in terms of the predominant religion, the fact that family (hence mainly women as caregivers) is the main provider of welfare creates a basis on which a welfare state cluster is formed. Based on this notion, this article underlines the importance of reinforcing men’s roles in the private sphere in Turkey, considering the differentiated burden women are saddled with in this particular context in accordance with the welfare regime category Turkey has been included in. 1. INTRODUCTION Women’s participation in paid work in relation to domestic division of labour has been a long discussed sociological and socio-political puzzle in the international literature. The reconciliation of paid work and family life has been mainly based on supporting women's participation in the labour market, whereas the role of men as husbands and fathers has been understated in many contexts with the distinct exception of the Northern European welfare regimes. In other words, particularly in countries where a traditional gender ideology perspective is prevalent in the social and political domains as in the case of Turkey, the reconciliation strategy is mostly built upon creating opportunities for women to balance paid and unpaid labour rather than making welfare provisions available for care responsibilities in the family, leaving men out of the equation. Social policies are expected to bring about changes to the disadvantaged position women have in the labour market and in the private sphere. It is frequently emphasized in the literature that family-related policies are highly effective in changing men’s attitudes (and thus, women’s double burden) regarding their share in the private sphere. In a way, social policies both reflect and have the capacity to influence the predominant gender ideology in a country. The latter concerns altering the national orientation towards female employment (Hook, 2006), influencing the impact of women's paid work on domestic division of labour patterns (Fuwa and Cohen, 2007), removing discriminatory policies and implementing parental leave policies (Chang, 2000) as well as reinforcing women’s participation in paid work via various taxation mechanisms, leave policies, and care regulations. Because through these changes gender egalitarianism becomes the norm over time and they are transferred to younger generations via the socialization process. Orloff (1993) underlines the importance of the relationship between state support and women’s status, and indicates that welfare provisions influence both the economic position and political participation of women as well as gender relations and identities in society. Geist (2005) points out that welfare states can create a framework that is a medium for arrangements regarding domestic labour. In some welfare typologies, gender egalitarianism is more widespread than in others. This is one of the indications that there is a link between welfare regimes and the regulation of the domestic division of labour that is highly related to women’s position in the job market. Esping-Andersen (1990) describes three different welfare regime typologies: social democratic (Nordic), liberal, and conservative. In the 1990s, a fourth regime was added in the literature: Southern (European) welfare regimes (Ferrera, 1996). Turkey has increasingly been included in this category, mainly because of the policies that reinforce the role of the family as its own welfare provider at times and the informal role women play in the social security system. On the other hand, Kyonne et al. (2014) include Turkey in the Asian welfare regimes (which they also define as Oriental regimes) and state that Korea, Thailand, and Turkey could be categorized as sharing a collectivist welfare culture unlike social democratic and liberal welfare states that are more individualistic; also, they argue that Asian welfare regimes tend to be positive towards private wealth like liberal welfare regimes and unlike social democratic and corporatist democratic systems. Turkey has also been described as a ‘hybrid’ welfare regime (Aybars and Tsarouhas, 2010), and thus it could be argued that there is no complete homogeneity even among the countries within the same welfare regime category and that there are certain commonalities between countries in different welfare state models. Particularly considering the burden that is shifted to families in terms of social security, alongside an emphasis on women’s domestic roles, Turkey’s welfare regime resembles that of Southern European countries. In Southern European welfare regimes (Italy, Spain, Greece, Portugal, as originally proposed by Ferrera (1996)), the family is still central and the welfare state only covers the risks that cannot be addressed by the family and fall outside its normal functioning (Trifiletti, 1999). Grütjen (2008) states that there are significant similarities between Turkey and other Mediterranean countries regarding the role of the family in providing social services, often as the only safety net, and in that wives and unmarried daughters are dependent on the husbands/fathers unless they work, which causes marriage to be perceived as the real social security mechanism for women. Gal (2010) introduces the concept of an extended family of Mediterranean welfare states (Italy, Spain, Portugal, Greece, Cyprus, Malta, Turkey, Israel) and includes the impact of religion on welfare regime formation as a characteristic associated with Mediterranean nations together with the centrality of the family and clientelism. Gal (2010) further states that, despite the different predominant religions of the countries included, religion has been an influential element as a set of values that trigger the initiation of welfare state institutions/regulations or social policies have been formed as a reaction against religion: this is to a certain extent distinctive from other welfare regime clusters. As will be seen, social policies linked to women’s position in the labour market in relation to their status in the private sphere will be discussed mainly via welfare regime models in this article. There is an expected level of unity between the countries that belong to the same welfare regime type; yet individual countries have their differences as well. In other words, individual welfare states can diverge from the clusters to which they are assigned, in accordance with transforming social and economic contexts. However, particularly in the case of Southern European welfare regimes, cultural notions and the political discourse significantly affect the welfare state regulations, including policies and laws concerning the family and women’s status in society. There is general agreement in the literature that the Southern European regimes are characterized by saddling the family with the role of being a safety net, and therefore lack adequate welfare provisions and have low rates of childcare benefits, and as Ferrera (2005) states, women are sent into labour markets unprotected when their work is economically needed. However, at first sight, Turkey differs from the other countries that are associated with this welfare regime in two basic traits: the fact that it is not a European Union (EU) member and that the mainstream religion is Islam. Regarding the former, Iguarán (2011) indicates that the impact of the pending EU membership process on the Turkish welfare regime is yet to be seen. In terms of the latter, this article argues that the fact that Turkey’s predominant religion is Islam is not an excluding element in terms of welfare regime categorization. Rather, following Gal (2010), the overall influence of religion in daily life through tradition is one of the determinants of social policy (e.g. family being the main social security provider) in the Southern European context regardless of the specific faith. Despite these two apparent differences, as Grütjen (2008) emphasizes, Turkey fulfils the key criteria of being a part of the Southern European regimes in that the family is the main institution of welfare with a high level of familialism and with the lack of the emphasis on civil society. The next section of this article will focus on the discussions regarding gender-related social policy implications in Turkey and the incorporation of Turkey into the Southern European welfare regime category. This will be followed by the details of social policy implementations concerning the reconciliation of paid work and family life from the 1980s until the present to elaborate how Turkey fits the Southern European welfare regime context based on these family-related laws and regulations. II. FAMILY IN THE SOCIAL POLICY CONTEXT: TURKEY AND THE SOUTHERN EUROPEAN WELFARE REGIME In the literature, attempts to improve female labour force participation via limited benefits and support towards families are frequently underlined in the case of Turkey. Buğra and Yakut-Çakar (2010) emphasize that the Turkish welfare regime is highly gendered and social assistance puts women in a favoured position among those who are considered to be potentially poor. They further indicate that the transfers acquired due to this position, though limited and mostly irregular, are important for families in severe financial difficulty and subsequently the role women in contributing to the household is defined via this social assistance and not paid work. Elveren (2013) states that in the past decade there have been efforts in the Turkish social policy realm aiming for gender equality mainly with the introduction of new legislation such as the Labour Law in 2003, the Civil Code in 2001, and the Penal Code that was accepted in 2004 and implemented in 2005, all of which target the equal treatment of both sexes; yet the social security system is still based on the male breadwinner model and the idea of familialism, and the low rate of female employment as well as the existing informal sector reduced the impact of the Labour Law. The conjunction of neo-liberalism and neo-conservatism as well as the EU adaptation process have also been among the issues affecting social policies regarding Turkish women’s status in the private and public spheres. Dedeoğlu (2013) underlines that in the past two decades, the position of Turkish women has created ambivalence between the required legal regulations in the process of EU negotiations and the conservatist state discourse, of which the latter mainly supports women's issues in the areas that are associated with family and religious affairs. Buğra and Keyder (2006) remark on the fragmented and hierarchical social security system with corporatist tendencies attributing health and pension benefits to formally employed ‘heads of households’ according to their status at work, the absence of meaningful social assistance schemes, and relying on the family as the central social security provider in times of need. Elveren (2013) states that while the new Civil Code eliminated the concept of ‘head of the household’, thus equalizing the status of the husband and wife, and recognized women’s unpaid labour by dividing the properties obtained during marriage equally upon divorce, the social insurance system does not take the influence of unpaid labour (including in agriculture) and household production on welfare development into consideration, as the social insurance system treats housewives as dependants of their husbands. Acar and Altunok (2013) highlight the clash over the past two decades between neo-liberal policies that are concerned about the profitability of organizations, are gender-blind and based on self-regulation of the social and economic spheres, and the neo-conservative ideology that focuses on the value of the private sphere, underlines women’s role as the caregiver, strengthens the value of family for upholding moral values, and weakens the provision of external support mechanisms. They further emphasize that the structural transformation of the social security and healthcare system since 2002 based on neo-liberal policies, along with restructured economic relations, introduction of flexibility in the labour market, and privatization of public and welfare services, have all decreased many rights of women as dependants on the basis of equal rights, without a concomitant shift to increasing female employment. These have left women in a more disadvantaged position (Acar and Altunok, 2013), considering the persistently low and stagnant rates of women participating in the job market.1 Oktay-Yılmaz (2013) indicates that there should be a transformation in the domestic division of labour patterns in the Turkish context and underlines the paradox created by the emphasis put on improving women’s employment and the expectations of them to have more children without providing adequate care services. There is the aforementioned lack of adequate family benefits as well: in Turkey, regular family allowances are only provided to public and civil servants and to the poorest of the poor (6 per cent of the population in income distribution) (İnan and Aşık, 2015). In 2015, child benefits were introduced in Turkey,2 and there is a one-off payment of 300 Turkish Lira3 for the first child, 400 TL for the second child, and 600 TL for the third and following numbers of children. Also, nursing women (or the uninsured breastfeeding spouse of a male insurance holder) are entitled to Nursing Allowance as a one-off payment (112 TL in 2015) (Turkish Labour Law, 2015). Buğra and Yakut-Çakar (2010) note that the social security system introduced in Turkey after Second World War comprised three different organizations entailing different benefits (they were merged in 2006), and it excluded a majority of informal sector workers, was family-centred, and of a patriarchal character based on a male-breadwinner model with very limited support for care in the household. As there was no fully inclusive social security net, the family was (and still is) central to the welfare regime which highly resembles many components of the Mediterranean welfare regimes.4Flaquer (2000) argues that family solidarity both explains and is a result of underdeveloped family policies but that there is also a reluctance to change that could be addressed as a cultural tendency: many people in Mediterranean countries thinking that family services are more successful than external social support and need to be preserved. Buğra and Yakut-Çakar (2010) add that, as the countries included in the Southern European welfare regime have experienced important changes in the past two decades, different transformations have occurred in Turkey compared with its EU counterparts, as social inclusion was not a priority in the Turkish context despite the similarity as regards fiscal pressures in both settings. The ‘superwoman’ expectation that is frequently seen among Southern European welfare systems (Moreno, 2002) has not been fully successful in Turkey (despite women’s decent level of higher educational attainment) which is mainly a result of their multiple burden. The almost Parsonian functionalistic approach5 to women’s roles in the private sphere that is a result of the traditional social structure together with the centrality of the family as a substitute for the social welfare provisions resulted in the need to balance work and family life. Gal (2010: 169) points out that, traditionally, social protection has been highly familialistic in Turkey, and the family has provided both an informal mechanism and a formal formation framework for welfare provision. It is also emphasized that in the Turkish context families tend to fail to extend this protection beyond the nuclear household (Iguarán, 2011). When there is no consistent and adequate social assistance scheme, the welfare system relies on family ties in risky circumstances (Buğra and Keyder, 2006). The low levels of welfare provisions for children in Mediterranean welfare regimes (Keck, 2008: 154), in the form of a rudimentary level of assistance which is particularly true for Turkey, Italy, and Greece (Gough, 1996), lead to dependence on women as mothers and wives (Dedeoğlu, 2012: 129), on the basis of the familialistic structure, patronage, and the residual nature of social assistance (Goerres and Vanhuysse, 2011). In Turkey, Kılıç (2008) indicates that recent initiatives have changed from seeing women as weaker and in need of special protection based on dependency to independent participants of society, although women are not ready for this status at work or at home: thereby, rather than transforming the position of women, a second-class citizen status is created when combined with the realities of work and the private sphere. Mann (1986: 55) indicates that neo-patriarchy is also still present, as is the extension of concepts like domesticity and femininity that reproduce patriarchal values and practices in the public sphere, labour market, and the welfare state, and we could argue that this is more so in the example of Southern European welfare regimes. In the case of Turkey, Dedeoğlu (2009) emphasizes that equality policies are far from being supportive of women’s work and even reward women’s roles as wives and mothers, and mostly do not create any transformation; rather, they remain as abstract regulations without a suitable macro-economic structure and redefining men’s roles in the private sphere in terms of sharing family- and household-related responsibilities equally. Soyseçkin (2015) states that the attempts to increase female employment in Turkey remained limited to making flexible work the norm instead of solving women’s problem of being saddled with care responsibilities: this ignores the quality of the jobs women attain by prioritizing quantity (also the number of women at work) over quality, potentially exacerbates the traditional domestic division of labour, and incorporates work into the primary role of women as the caregiver. On this note, it needs to be emphasized that an International Labour Organization article on flexibility in the labour market (International Labour Organization (ILO), 1997) addresses part-time work as a potential linkage for women between being active and inactive in the labour market and that it could help to reconcile family and work, yet it is also underlined that in the absence of social security, certain benefits, and training opportunities, career prospects are rather weak in these jobs. Jaumotte (2003) agrees with these concerns and highlights the marginalizing potential of part-time jobs. Thus, while flexible working, including part-time employment, can be beneficial in maintaining the attachment of women to the labour market and providing economic freedom to a certain extent, it should be approached cautiously by investigating the risks that in the long run it could turn women’s part-time labour market participation into a norm and create new problems by associating female employment as being temporary and flexible. Recently, temporary work and telecommuting (remote work) were added in the Labour Law (Turkish Labour Law, 2016a, b). Also, after the maternity leave, women may work half time up to 60 days on first childbirth, 120 days on the second, and 180 days for the third child (and for following numbers of children) (but in this case, there is no breastfeeding leave offered), or one of the parents may choose to work part-time until the first day of the month following the date child’s compulsory schooling begins (again with no additional breastfeeding leave and only available for dual-earner families, and it should also be added that wages and benefits will be provided half the amount as well as career progression procedures will be evaluated based on the half-time worked during this time): these part-time work opportunities are offered both to employees working under an employment contract and public and civil servants.6 It should be underlined that rather than aiming to provide a very long maternal leave (e.g. of 2 or more years) to which another long period of part-time working option (that is likely to be used by the mother rather than the father) is added with stagnated career improvement opportunities that could potentially result in detachment from the labour market, it is essential to offer a reasonable amount of leave time together with family benefits in the form of reasonable amounts of cash transfers or child allowances up to a certain number of children, ranked by an income-tested mechanism if necessary, and other provisions such as child sick leave. Most importantly, instead of aiming to keep women at home fully or partially beyond an average maternity leave phase that is widely recognized as standard, providing high-quality and stable professional on-site day care not only for mothers but also for fathers is the way forward for a more gender-aware policy agenda. III. MOTHERS AT WORK: SOCIAL POLICY IMPLEMENTATIONS IN TURKEY Maternity leave and paternity leave are among the most significant policy issues regarding the reconciliation of paid work and family life. An ILO report (International Labour Organization (ILO), 2004) indicates that very long periods of maternity leave, particularly with no job protection, could damage women’s attachment to the labour market. When the leave is too short, women may not feel ready to go back to work and may withdraw from the labour market, and if they intend to return to the labour market, they could face the motherhood penalty. Longer leave could also jeopardize their career formation and cause stronger statistical discrimination7 in relatively higher prestige jobs, in this case by exacerbating employers’ exclusion of female employees due to the longer career breaks exclusively used by women. The policy implementations discussed below will be evaluated in the light of this perspective and by considering other support mechanisms provided to families in terms of balancing paid work and the private sphere. 1. Maternity and Paternity Leave in Turkey In Turkey, there had been a clear separation between public and civil servants, and employees working under an employment contract regarding their rights to family-related provisions, including maternity and paternity leave. In 1982, paid maternity leave for public and civil servants was 3 weeks before and 6 weeks after giving birth, with no unpaid leave option.8 For men, only 3 days were granted for parental leave, while leave for one’s (or one’s child’s) marriage was 5 days for both women and men. After the maternity leave ended, women were provided 1.5 hours of breastfeeding break a day for 6 months. In 1995, a maximum of 12-month unpaid maternity leave on request was introduced.9 By 2004, paid maternity leave was 16 weeks (8 weeks before and 8 weeks after delivery), and unpaid maternity leave was 12 months; after the former ended, for a year women were entitled to 1.5 hours of breastfeeding break daily at a time of the mother’s choosing (and 3 days of paid leave was granted to fathers).10 In 2011, the provision of the 16 weeks of paid leave remained unchanged, and 24 months of unpaid leave for both women and men working as public and civil servants was introduced (as well as 10 days of paid leave for men was provided, whereas leave for one’s or one’s child marriage was revised to 7 days), and permission for breastfeeding was 3 h a day for the first 6 months and 1.5 h for the second 6 months after the leave ended.11 Men would be expected to opt out of the opportunity to take the above-mentioned 24 months of unpaid leave that was provided in 2011 fully or partially, considering the deep-seated emphasis on women’s traditional gender roles. Thus, unless the aim is changing the mentality regarding women’s roles in the public sphere, this ‘option’ would remain limited to women’s preference. Furthermore, in practice, simultaneous unpaid leave (which is among the possibilities if both the mother and the father are public/civil servants12) would put families into economic hardship, also considering the new addition to the family. As in the example of Sweden, more persuasive measures need to be taken, such as the 1-month parental leave reserved for each parent that was introduced in 1995 to which an additional month was added in 2002 which are ‘use-or-lose daddy months’ for men (Duvander and Jans, 2008). But there are many obstacles to overcome in the case of Turkey as 5 days of paid leave has only recently been granted to fathers who are employees working under an employment contract.13 In the same legislation, the cost-of-living adjustment for the third child was raised from 5 to 10 per cent. But this could also be interpreted as a step to encourage higher fertility rates rather than being a family support reinforcing women’s employment. For employees working under an employment contract, in 1987, it was forbidden for women to work 6 weeks before delivery and 6 weeks after giving birth, with an optional unpaid 6 months of leave after completion of the 6-week post-delivery leave. Also, breastfeeding breaks of 45 minutes twice a day were granted to women with children aged less than or equal to 1 year,14 though these fragmented and restricted breaks might be considered slightly inconvenient for the mother. There was no paid or unpaid leave for men in this category of employment by that time. In 2003, the paid maternity leave was 16 weeks (plus a daily 1.5 h breastfeeding break for mothers with children aged less than 1 year at any time of the day, at the mother’s discretion) with 6 months of unpaid leave, whereas there was again no leave for fathers.15 For employers working under an employment contract, the workplace is not legally bound to pay for the time the mother is on leave, but there is a payment of temporary disability of service (also called birth payment): for the 16 weeks (8 weeks before and 8 weeks after the birth) the Social Security Institution (SSI) pays two-thirds of the wage at the time, and employers who voluntarily pay the salary for the 16 weeks of leave could ask for the payment made by SSI to be paid to themselves (some employers do not demand it) (Turkish Labour Law, 2015). As maternity leave is a key benefit for working women, paternity leave is also highly significant in various ways. By 2004, 3 days of paternity leave was available for public and civil servants, shorter than the 5 days of leave for one’s marriage or the marriage of one’s children provided (see endnote: 9). In policy terms, this could imply that a man’s marriage is more valued than the birth of his child, thus, accentuating women’s role as the main carer. Also, coupled with the severance pay exclusive to women in their first year of marriage (which implies that a woman’s place is the home), the lack of stable day care opportunities indicates a general concern of the social policy realm to protect the traditional family structure within marriage by mainly allocating the caring responsibilities to women in the private sphere in accordance with the Southern European policy regime. 2. Day Care Provision Regarding day care, in 1987 regulations based on Law 657 applicable to public and civil servants stated that a facility providing day care (in exchange for a monthly fee) for children between the ages of nought and 6 years for 50 or more workers could be established in the premises with the approval of the associated Minister.16 In 2004, based on the Law 485717 applicable to employees working under an employment contract, the regulations saddled workplaces that employed 100–150 female workers to provide a space for breastfeeding purposes, where children aged less than or equal to 1 year are also looked after regardless of the age and marital status of the mothers (this service was also available for men with custody). It was also underlined that nursing women cannot work on nightshifts for 6 months after delivery. For workplaces with 150 or more female employees (the number of women working in the firms owned by the same employer within the municipality/municipal adjacent area), employers had to provide a care facility including a kindergarten, where children between the ages of nought and 6 years were taken care of, and a room for breastfeeding purposes separate from the workplace. If the care facility was over 250 m from the establishment, transportation must be provided, and employers could establish the facilities jointly or make arrangements with care centres that have the required standards to fulfil this responsibility. The regulation introduced in 2004 was abolished in 2013,18 and the new regulation is introduced for workers of all statuses who are dependent on the Law number 6331 unless there are facilities established beforehand for workers in accordance with their statuses, while the aforementioned rights concerning day care facilities19 that are applicable to public and civil servants (who are dependent on Law number 657, first section/first article) are reserved regarding the fourth section of this regulation introduced in 2013. While the details of the necessities for providing day care remained the same, after the statement ‘workplaces can make arrangements with care centres’, ‘authorized by public institutions’ was added. Also, alongside with mothers, fathers with custody (who are divorced or whose wives are deceased) were considered for the minimum required number of workers for opening day care. It should be added that, as highlighted by İnan and Aşık (2015), workplaces are mostly small and medium size in Turkey and not many employers hire 150 or more women. Also, basing day care provision on the number of women workers reinforces the idea that only mothers are responsible for childcare, as only men with custody are counted in need for childcare opportunities at work. Furthermore, it is not uncommon for employers to keep the number of female workers below the minimum, so that they avoid the requirement to provide day care. Thus, careful and systematic formal inspection of the required care provisions, alongside a supportive gender discourse, is important for improving employers’ mentality and attitudes towards day care provision for employees (for both mothers and fathers). Where it is not recommended to have an on-site day care facility and kindergarten due to health and safety reasons, the introduction of a generous child allowance could be considered, as in Sweden (where financial support is provided to parents until the child is 16),20 or a childcare rebate, as in Australia (where out-of-pocket childcare expenses are paid and not income tested).21 In March 2015, a childcare at home project named ‘Supporting Formal Female Employment via Home-Based Childcare Services’ was initiated by the SSI, and was jointly financed by the Republic of Turkey and the EU. Monthly financial support (for hiring insured caretakers) was provided to full-time working mothers with children aged 0–24 months who fulfilled the eligibility criteria in three large cities (Bursa, İzmir, and Antalya). Istanbul and Ankara were added to the project in December 2016. The payments supported both formal employment of caretakers and career continuity of working mothers.22 The project was finalized in August 2017. A similar and extended project (that also covers housekeeping services) supported by the State that would bring together women in need of employment and families which need support in their household chores would be expected to further help to solve the problematic issue of the double burden of women. Dedeoğlu (2009) states that a bill suggested by the Directorate General on the Status of Women to the Parliament regarding parental leave, which would have given women and men 6 months leave each (a total of 1-year parental leave), has been withdrawn from the agenda before being considered by the general assembly, particularly based on the strong reaction from employers on the grounds that this type of leave is specific to European culture, and that even if men were given this time off, they would not use it for childcare purposes. Although maternity leave was increased after this, paid paternity leave has remained at 10 days, and the way the new 24 months entitlement for men who are public and civil servants is used is yet to be seen. Finally, although private institutions are also responsible for fulfilling these requirements, it is not uncommon that women feel the pressure to return to work at an earlier stage to overcome the risk of staying behind their colleagues for their prospective careers, or even as a result of the pressure that directly comes from the employer despite the legal right to use parental leave. This is a prominent reason why monitoring the regulations in effect as well as implementing them is highly significant. Surely there is more to a country’s overall gender discourse than the family policies that it implements. Section 14 of (Labour) Law no. 145723 entitles (only) women to severance pay of 30 days’ worth for each year worked if they terminate their work contract within the first year of their marriage (for the first marriage). As this entitlement is the only article preserved from the older Labour Law (Law no. 4857), two members of the constitutional court, Kantarcıoğlu and Perktaş, demanded this section to be repealed by emphasizing that it is not consistent with changing social and legal circumstances such as the removal in 1990 of the need for a wife to have the husband’s approval for her to work, and by stating that giving this right to women only harms gender equality. They stated that ‘false practices should not shape law but law should direct society to be able to overcome faults and deficiencies’.24 However, this demand was rejected on the grounds that the article does not contravene the constitution considering the importance of the obligations within the family created by certain social facts and the duties within marriage, and that this regulation protects women who decide to leave the labour market after marriage as well as to preserve the family union.25 Giving women almost a ‘pseudo leave’ which could be for an indefinite period or even for good, only because they are married and legally implying that the paid work of women is a barrier to having a family and vice versa creates a highly gendered context, which strongly contradicts any other support that may be given to working women by law. In addition, a recent legal decision authorizing a contribution by the state to the marriage portion (dowry) accounts (an optional bank account for savings for the wedding preparations, and the new household and marriage-related needs) on the condition that the first marriage occurs before the age of 27 years26 implies the reinforcement of family formation at a relatively early age. IV. CONCLUSION This article firstly discussed the social policy agenda linked to women’s position at work and in the family in Turkey as well as its welfare regime type. Turkey has been included among the Southern European countries mainly on account of women’s status in the family and the labour market and the policies reconciling them. Secondly, this position was supported by presenting and critically evaluating specific family-related policies in Turkey from 1980s until the present. It can be observed that there is a strong tendency to try to keep women’s caregiver roles stable and ‘safe’ whilst supporting their employment within a restricted circle of circumstances and conditions in accordance with Mediterranean welfare regime practice. In other words, there are initiations that reinforce female employment without jeopardizing or compromising women’s domestic roles by offering context-specific solutions. Social policy implications and welfare provisions are expected to be in harmony with the political discourse; yet the burden placed on women has been partly a reflection of the gender discourse inherent in the political sphere. Thus, the juxtaposition of the positive steps taken towards supporting women’s employment and the pronatal political discourse has been maintaining women’s disadvantaged position in reconciling employment and family life in Turkey. This contradictory pattern does not only take place on the discourse level. Elveren (2013) emphasizes that while there have been improvements, such as providing universal health insurance, integrating domestic workers who are salaried and continually employed as well as pay the required premiums including home-based workers in the pension system, extension of the scope of maternity insurance, and permit of benefit to dependent girls via parents, only 40 per cent of working women are covered by the pension system. As mentioned earlier, policies such as extended periods of maternity leave without introducing leave opportunities specifically offered to fathers or flexible work available exclusively to mothers need to be carefully considered since, though they are beneficial by giving parents (usually the mother) the chance to remain attached to the labour market while taking care of the child, this could potentially affect women’s career prospects by exacerbating employers’ prejudices regarding women’s occupational discontinuity based on family responsibilities. Thus, the extension of similar steps as the aforementioned childcare at home project and day care at work needs to be reinforced and monitored carefully, and also, support towards household-related responsibilities via similar projects needs to be provided. Strictly defined gender roles comprise an artificial structure. They can therefore be redefined, with the help of social policies and changes that come from within the society with increasing educational attainment and awareness among men as well as women. In the Turkish social policy agenda, there has been no emphasis on men as fathers in terms of supporting their roles in the household and providing childcare benefits such as men being entitled to day care at work. This shows that the social policy regulations Turkey has been applying fit the context of the Mediterranean welfare regime, as women’s roles as primary homemakers are accentuated in various ways. However, it is possible to remove the burden from women’s shoulders and make an effort to involve men in the household. Supporting women’s work does not mean diminishing the family structure. Rather, it partially is related to the involvement of fathers in family life in a way that would actually bring families closer together, considering that this is among the concerns at the socio-political level. Social policy support towards men’s roles in the private sphere can also become the norm in society over time as in the example of Sweden: Chronholm (2007) states that the second-generation discourse in Sweden is stronger, as the generation after 1974 legislation accommodates more naturally caring fathers who claim their fathers to be their role models. To achieve this, public campaigns and public service announcements could be extended to raise awareness among men regarding their roles as husbands and fathers. As highlighted by Knijn and Selten (2002: 168) a media campaign in The Netherlands promoted the fact that ‘men are as indispensable in the home as they are at work’ as stated in a television spot, giving the message that children need to know their fathers: this can only happen if they are involved in their children’s lives. Similar support mechanisms towards men’s roles via NGOs as in AÇEV’s (Anne Çocuk Eğitim Vakfı/The Mother and Child Education Foundation) ‘Father Support Program’ commenced in 199627 are expected to be influential means for reinforcing men’s participation in family-related responsibilities. In the way towards improving women’s status at work and at home, acknowledging their unpaid labour is also among the steps to be taken as a buffer mechanism28 (Kıray, 2000) to a certain extent. Toksöz (2013: 111) underlines that the United Nations System of National Accounts Treaty in 1993 has foreseen that unpaid economic activity will join to GNP (Gross National Product) calculations and subsistence production, unpaid household and care work, volunteer work, and unpaid family work could be counted among these added values. The first two were taken into account as unpaid labour, while the latter two were left out of the scope of production activities and labelled as contributions to society rather than the economy despite their significance also at the economic level. While the change in women’s status at work, in society, and the family is largely dependent on an egalitarian political discourse and policies targeting equality, concomitant widening of higher educational attainment among women and men, and supporting men as husbands and fathers as much as women as employees need to be held as priorities in the social policy agenda for further improvement of women’s status in the private and public spheres as well. Footnotes 1 The female employment rate was 30.6 per cent in 1988 (October), 28.4 per cent in 1998 (October), 22.0 per cent in 2008 (October), and 27.8 per cent in 2016 (October) in Turkey (Turkish Statistical Institute, 1998, 1998, 2008, 2016). 2 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2015: no. 29319. 3 1 GBP = 4.8214 TL. The Pound to Turkish Lira exchange rate (GBP to TL) as of 20 October 2017, 10.25 AM. Derived from: http://www.exchangerates.org.uk/Pounds-to-Lira-currency-conversion-page.html. 4 The concepts of ‘Southern European welfare regime’ and ‘Mediterranean welfare regime’ are generally used interchangeably in the literature (Trifiletti (1999): Southern European welfare regimes/Mediterranean welfare states/Mediterranean model; Flaquer (2000): Mediterranean welfare states/Southern welfare states (the latter is also originally used by Ferrera (1996) who introduced this concept as ‘The Southern Model of Welfare’); Gal (2010): Southern European model/Mediterranean welfare states). 5 Talcott Parsons (as a functionalist theorist) argues that solidarity is achieved by individuals’ fulfilment of their share of roles and values within society which are internalized via socialization, and that this process also includes the roles of actors in the capitalist system (Berberoğlu 2005). 6 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2016: no. 29620. 7 Statistical discrimination occurs when employers believe that women’s work is potentially discontinuous, since they are considered to be more family-oriented, and as it is not possible to observe individuals’ true labour market attachment in the initial hiring processes, employers rely on the group average (formed as a result of past experiences or false assumptions/prejudices), even when women’s qualifications are equal with their male counterparts (Fang and Moro 2011). 8 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1982: no. 17606. 9 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1995: no. 22354. 10 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2004: no. 25529. 11 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2011: no. 27857. 12 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2016: no. 29683. 13 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2015: no. 29335. 14 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1987: no. 19427. 15 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2003: no. 25134. 16 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1987: no. 19658. 17 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2004: no. 25522. 18 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2013: no. 28737. 19 The Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1987: no. 19658. 20 The Official Guide to Working in Sweden, Information on social benefits. Available at: http://work.sweden.se/living-in-sweden/social-benefits/ (last accessed July 2015). 21 Australian Government website (on childcare and related benefits), Information on child care benefits – Child Care Benefit and Child Care Rebate. See http://www.mychild.gov.au/childcare-information/rebate (last accessed July 2015). 22 Social Security Institution (Collaborative project of Republic of Turkey and the European Union) (2015), Supporting Formal Female Employment via Home-Based Childcare Services Project. http://www.sgk.gov.tr/wps/portal/sgk/tr/Haberler/haber_20161128_433 (last accessed 3 January 2017). 23 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 1971: no. 13943. 24 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey: no. 27066 (2008). 25 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey, 2008: no. 27066. 26 Official Gazette of the Republic of Turkey 2015: no. 29564, legal decision no. 2015/8302. 27 Please visit http://www.acev.org/en/ for further information. 28 Originally, this concept is used for the mechanisms that temporarily compensate for social change/transformation by acting as a ‘bridge’ between ‘old’ and ‘upcoming’ social patterns in a Turkish seaside town (Ereğli) by Mübeccel B. Kıray (2000). 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International Journal of Law, Policy and the Family – Oxford University Press
Published: Apr 1, 2018
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