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What the City Has to Offer: Urbanization and Women's Empowerment in Turkey

  • Kursat Cinar (a1) and Meral Ugur-Cinar (a1)

This article examines the relationship between urbanization and women's empowerment through the Turkish case. The article first tests statistically the overall impact of urbanization on women's empowerment by tapping into educational, economic, and political indicators at the province level. The results yield a positive relationship between urbanization and women's empowerment. We argue that these empowerment indicators demonstrate the necessary conditions of women's empowerment, yet whether these are sufficient for women to feel empowered needs to be further tested. To do so, the article utilizes an extensive original survey of 334 well-educated urban women in 43 out of 81 provinces of Turkey to examine the extent to which the results found in the quantitative section are paralleled by the actual experiences of women. The survey analysis reveals prospects and obstacles that well-educated women face in old and new urban centers. This nonrandom, purposive sample of seemingly empowered urban women shows that the barriers faced by these women would easily multiply when lower strata of society are reached. The Turkish case demonstrates that societal transformations such as urbanization have an imprint on the fates of women, yet further women's empowerment needs collective action at the political, legal, and societal levels.

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The authors acknowledge the financial support of the European Union (Horizon 2020 - Marie Curie Reintegration Project: “Female Empowerment” - Project # 702073) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK) (H2020 Success Award # 342617). They also would like to thank all survey participants in their research, including members of the Federation of Women’s Organizations in Turkey (Türkiye Kadın Dernekleri Federasyonu), Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (Türkiye Kadın Girişimciler Derneği), Uçan Süpürge, Women’s Cooperatives Association (Kadın Kooperatifleri Birliği), Union of Chambers of Turkish Engineers and Architects (Türk Mühendis ve Mimar Odaları Birliği). They also thank the three anonymous reviewers and the journal editor for their helpful comments on previous drafts.

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