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Who Represents Women in Turkey? An Analysis of Gender Difference in Private Bill Sponsorship in the 2011–15 Turkish Parliament

  • Eda Bektas (a1) and Esra Issever-Ekinci (a2)
Abstract

In this study, we examine substantive representation of women in the 2011–15 Turkish Parliament by focusing on sponsorship of private members’ bills by members of parliament (MPs) across eight major issue areas. The Turkish case offers new insights into women's representation, not only because this topic is unexplored in the Turkish context but also because it provides an opportunity to examine the tension between gender as a social identity and ideology as a political identity in a legislature characterized by disciplined political parties and low gender parity. Findings indicate that women MPs in Turkey substantively represent women by sponsoring more bills on women's rights and equality issues than their male colleagues, despite their low numbers in parliament and affiliation with highly disciplined parties. Party ideology also shapes women MPs’ issue priorities depending on the emphasis placed by the parties on different issue areas. Whereas left-wing women MPs sponsor more bills on women's rights and equality issues defined with a feminist accent, right-wing women MPs sponsor more bills on issues regarding children and family. Left-wing women also differ significantly from right-wing women in their sponsorship of bills on health and social affairs issues, as left-wing parties prioritize those issues more than right-wing parties.

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The authors would like to thank the anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments; Gülce Kale for her assistance in web scraping; and Selin Akyüz, Aaron Clarke, Emre Ekinci, Berk Esen, and Zeki Sarıgil for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.

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Politics & Gender
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