The 5-year project directly impacted the lives of hundreds of women with 50 entrepreneurs starting up own businesses; and rolled out Turkey’s first Action Plan on Women’s Employment.
The “More and Better Jobs for Women: Women’s Empowerment through Decent Work in Turkey” Project implemented jointly by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) with the financial contributions from Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) with the motto ‘We are equal and together at home, at work and everywhere’ ended in a Closing Conference in 21 March 2018 in Ankara.
The closing conference coincided with March 21, marking equal day and night length.
Speaking at the Conference, Ms. Jülide Sarıeroğlu, Minister of Labour and Social Security stated that “We placed women on the focus of all of our policies for the last 15 years. All of our social policies have women in the centre. We are working diligently with our stakeholders to empower women in all spheres of life without discrimination.”
While she had another engagement during the day, Minister Sarıeroğlu participated in this significant event marking gender equality on the day when night and day were of equal length, and congratulated everyone’s Nawruz Holiday.
Ms. Sarıeroğlu further elaborated that ISKUR realised a significant transformation in employment and added that “Women’s participation is exceeding 33%. Our goal is to take this figure high God willing” and the goal was 41%.
ILO Turkey Director Özcan: “Women touched by the Project said ‘fortunately, I did it.’ We as ILO Turkey Office say “fortunately, we implemented this project.”
ILO Turkey Director Numan Özcan indicated that the Project of five years achieved significant outcomes both in developing policies for women’s employment and providing decent work opportunities for women and importance of women’s employment.
Reminding that Turkey’s first Action Plan on Women’s Employment was drafted in an exemplary social dialogue approach under the Project, Özcan said “Through the Project, we were able to touch women’s lives, had the chance to change and empower them. “Women touched by the Project said ‘fortunately, I did it.’ We as ILO Turkey Office say “fortunately, we implemented this project.”
ISKUR General Director Uzunkaya: “Polices for women in Turkey achieved significant outcomes”
Noting that policies for women achieved significant outcomes in Turkey, ISKUR General Director Cafer Uzunkaya said: “Women’s participation in the labour force increased from 23% to 34; employment from 20% to 29%. Where we think of 29% in women’s employment, the share of ISKUR in mediating 34% of employment is all the more significant for our policies.
Swedish Ambassador Wahlund
His Excellency Lars Wahlund, Swedish Ambassador to Ankara, noted that no country could get richer without employing women, and Turkey was emphasising women’s employment. Highlighting that stronger women’s employment would further democratise countries, Mr. Wahlund added that Turkey made significant progress in this area. Comparing Turkey to Scandinavian countries for women labour force, he said while only one third of Turkish women participated in the labour force, the corresponding rate in Sweden was around 80%.
The session featured Ms. Seçil Aktaş who received entrepreneurship training and started up own business.
Project directly impacted the lives of hundreds of women
The Project was launched in 2013 with the slogan “At work, at home and everywhere, we are equal and together”. Hundreds of women were reached out in five years under the Project, 50 of whom started own businesses. Through activities in the pilot provinces of Ankara, Bursa, Konya and Istanbul, the lives of hundreds of women were touched upon while many firsts were fielded. A most tangible output of the Project was Turkey’s first ever “Action Plan on Women’s Employment”.
In addition, 800 women in total were provided training on human rights, labour rights, gender equality and entrepreneurship. Selected through a “Business Plan Contest”, 28 women were provided micro-grants. The winning entrepreneur candidates were given one-on-one mentoring services, and assistance in start-up processes. Nearly 50 of the 400 women who received entrepreneurship training started up own businesses. More than 2000 women and men in various sectors received gender equality training with the slogan “I support equality”. “Gender equality” representatives were assigned in 81 Provincial Directorates of ISKUR.
Turkey’s first Action Plan on Women’s Employment
Prepared under the Project, Turkey’s first Action Plan on Women’s Employment (2016-2018) aims at supporting the creation of decent work opportunities for women through the provision of gender responsive employment services.
Developed by the National Technical Team, the Action Plan involves two key objectives of “fostering women’s vocational skills and directing them to work to increase women’s employment, and increasing women’s accessibility to the labour market”; and 9 measures to implement these objectives.
The Action Plan was developed by the National Technical Team (NTT) composed of representatives from public agencies and relevant ministries as well as from KOSGEB, TOBB, local governments, development agencies, universities and employer and employee organisations including TISK and labour confederations, and particularly NGOs engaged in women’s issues.
ISKUR was designated as the main responsible institution for achieving the objectives and implementing the measures in the Action Plan.
During the implementation period of the Action Plan, ISKUR’s services were analysed through gender lens. During the implementation, the number of women who received on-the-job training increased by 78%, those who received vocational training increased by 140%; and those who received entrepreneurship training increased by 110%. The number of women placed by ISKUR in jobs in the private sector increased from 29% to 34%.
“I felt project is behind me”
The participants in the Conference included representatives of partner agencies, entrepreneur women and project beneficiaries. Following the opening remarks, Minister Sarıeroğlu and entourage inaugurated the Project Street.
In the second part of the Conference, a panel session was held on ““Evaluation of Project Activities and Sustainability”.
Speaking at the panel discussion, Zeycan Karataş and Gül Gökdağlı who received entrepreneurship training said the project provided significant contribution to themselves in terms of knowledge and self-confidence, with an emphasis that they especially felt the sense of “the project is behind me” during the monitoring process in which they were regularly followed up by the project.
Project Coordinator Ebru Ozberk Anlı said it was essential for the decent work and gender equality approaches to be integrated into the policies of employment institutions to ensure the sustainability of the project’s contributions and impacts.
SIDA Representative Selin Yaşamış, on the other hand, said the project has provided significant contributions in terms of individual and institutional transformation taken into consideration of the beneficiaries including women and İŞKUR the project has touched.