Turkey”s Female Activists Remain Divided

Turkey’ Zaman newspaper interviewed a cross section of its nation’s women activists on the current state of women rights in Turkey. There is little evidence women are cooperating across religious or political or social lines despite recognition that success for one group may ultimately benefit all Turkish women. Canan Gullu, president of the secular Federation of Turkish Women’s Associations, indicated a problem in cooperation was the desire of Muslim women groups to politicize women’s issues by making wearing of the headscarf an important issue. Turkish women currently can not wear the headscarf while attending a university. According to Mine Ilic, another secular leader, “It can be said that conservative women don’t stay in secular women’s groups for long. Among, the most important reasons for this are differences in opinion ideology.”

However, some women believe Turkish women must cease dividing into religious and secular groups. Liz Amada, of Women for Women’s Human Rights(WWHR) believes within any women group there is a sharp division of opinion regarding many issues and the so called divide may well be exaggerated. Religious women note although they support wearing the headscarf in universities that does not mean they oppose other ideas to enhance the power and prestige of women.