Getting in, then representing? Narratives and experiences of women parliamentarians on doing and shaping womenโ€™s political representation in Turkey

Anna Ehrhart, Mid Sweden University

Abstract

Despite global tendencies of increasing political representation and empowerment of women, Turkey represents a deviant case where women’s political representation consistently ranks low on national and local governance levels and political decision-making remains a male-dominated sphere. While the women’s movement(s) in Turkey are persistent and vital driving forces of political change on women’s rights and gender equality, the formal political arena continues to pose barriers and challenges that uphold women’s under-representation. This paper seeks to explore how women parliamentarians in Turkey, despite their political under-representation in decision-making, experience and understand their own role as representatives for women and women’s interests. In doing so, this study draws on fieldwork conducted as in-depth interviews with elected women representatives across all five political parties in the Turkish parliament. The aim of this paper is to explore two main issues: first, in which ways do women parliamentarians experience gendered challenges in elected office and how do they form strategies of response or resistance? Secondly, how do women parliamentarians understand and define their own meanings of representing women and women`s interests in a male-dominated political arena?