1.Introduction

            In
recent decades, with the effect of decreasing wages and increasing awareness on
gender equality more and more women entered in to labor market. Most of
countries experienced an increase in the women employment. This was also
expected according to U-shaped Female Labor Force Participation Curve, which
predicts female labor participation will increase due to economic development
(Goldin, 1995). According to this theory as de-ruralization takes place women’s
labor participation will decrease because their agriculture skills will not be
enough for them to adopt to the jobs in the urban, but as economic development
continues with service sector and their education levels rising labor
participation rate of women will increase in higher rates eventually.

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            Among
Southern European States which is considered to be a cluster of welfare state
regimes, we can see this general increase in female labor participation rates.
However, Turkey has not experienced this upward trend in female labor
participation rates and hold the lowest place among OECD countries which
provided the latest data. This is sometimes explained with Islamic culture
which is also compatible with the fact that Arab countries have also lower
rates of female labor participation rates. However, the effect of social policy
of the state should not be neglected as services provided or not provided or
legal framework is highly influential on women’s employment patterns.

            Economic
hardships and close to stagnation situation of the market in Turkey is also
presented as reason, recently. Therefore, comparing Turkey’s policies to
countries with economic issues from the same welfare regime cluster can be
reasonable in this case. In the Appendix Table 1, we can see how different is
female labor participation rate and employment rate for some Southern European
states and Turkey in OECD datas.

            To
describe this difference, I will compare Turkey’s social policies that are
influencing women employment with those of Greece to see what is the source of
difference of female labor participation rates between those two countries. For
this purpose, there will be two focuses of this paper, which are effect of
European Union, service sector and neo-conservative and neo-liberal environment
on social policy for women’s employment which creates differences between Greece
and Turkey.

2.Effect of European
Union

            The
entrance of Greece into EU and Turkey’s membership process did not produce
similar results for women’s employment in two countries. Greece has been more
willing to apply gender policies in employment for EU whereas Turkey did not
experience much change due to EU criterias although there have been some
changes.

            Greece
was not a universalistic welfare state country, nor particularly sensitive to
gender matter in employment, from 1980s with a more egalitarian government
there were improvements for women in family policies but there was not any
incentive for them to work or raise women’s labor participation rate (Zartaloudis,
2009).  EU emphasizing the importance of
policies related to employment, had a major effect on Greece in terms of
women’s employment since 1998 and encouraged it through policy guidelines which
are not legally obligatory but still had an impact on states employment
policies (Zartaloudis, 2009). Those policies included certain quotas to
decision making bodies, incentives for low wage employment and part time jobs
in the beginning of 2000s and later trainings to increase women’s
employability, foundation of National Action Plan for Gender Equality (NAPGE)
and other gender mainstreaming and quota measures encourages women to enter
more in labor market (Zartaloudis, 2009). These developments still did not
reflect majorly, but it was enough to keep women’s employment rate high. However,
economic crisis affected unemployment rates and state services. Unemployment
rate is higher than men, in 2016 men’s unemployment rate is 19.9 and women’s
unemployment rate is 28.1 (OECD, 2018). Therefore, as it is the case in a
patriarchal society, first ones who are fired are women thus showing how
affective were the social policies for women to work.

            As
Ay?e Bu?ra and Burcu Yakut-Cakar discussed, social policy in Turkey was more
affected by international organizations rather than EU (Bu?ra and Yakut-Cakar, 2010).
Turkey has focused more on cash transfers for social assistance for poorest,
disabled people and care work. There were some improvements such as reducing
the amount employer needs to pay but general tendency is for women to work from
home in entrepreneurial activities which has little impact for women to gain
their autonomy (Bu?ra, 2014). As stated in Commission Staff Working Document: Turkey
2016 Report, there is little change in women’s employment and policy progress
in this area seen as problematic, only improvement is the satisfactory maternal
leave and for both parents to have a chance to care for their child with part
time work (European Commission, 2016). National Action Plan for European Union
Accession (2016-2019) also is not very promising for women’s employment, only
measure taken seems to be legislation of a law to prevent discrimination of any
individual (Ministry for EU Affairs, 2016). Therefore, European Union’s affect
on social policy of Turkey for women’s employment remained limited which
creates difference in women’s labor participation rate between two countries.

3.Neo-conservative and
Neo-liberal Environment

            Neoliberalism
had affected all types of welfare states, causing erosion and complete and
sometimes disposal of welfare state services and social spendings. As Southern
European countries Turkey and Greece were mostly more minimal welfare countries
with clientelist features. Under neoliberalism what has been seen as the responsibility
of the state which was limited but still provided by those states, were located
to non-state sectors such as NGOs, local administrations and family (Yaz?c?,
2012). Family is the important for us among others, because in patriarchal
societies which economy does not function well it would mean that care work has
to be done by women. However, outcomes of neoliberalism are different for those
two countries, especially when we focus on last two decades.

            In
Turkey, when neoliberalism started to reflect the most in policies, it coincided
and cooperated with rising neoconservatism and Islamic political culture.
Familialism has been the core of welfare policies, which focuses on traditional
family of Turkish society and entails care work to be done within the family
(Yaz?c?, 2012). Thus, state withdrew any care service which were supporting low
income families, putting care work responsibility on shoulders of women. For
example, state encouraged adopting children by promising social aid, so that
public orphan child care centers could be closed and would require less
investment which would likely be woman’s job to take care of the child. Another
example of state’s policy for women to take the responsibility of care work is,
if a woman marries while working and she decides to quit her job, she will
receive her severance pay based on how many years she worked. Thus, this an
incentive for woman not to work and stay at home. Not only family policies
affected women but also labor regulations, such as unionization among workers
were prevented through state regulations along with subcontracting and
outsourcing applications, which enabled cheap wages for male workers. Women are
hired for lower paying and precarious jobs as cheap labor but when men’s work
is already cheap they are not preferred. One reason for not being preferred as
employee is that women require adjustments in the work place and investment,
such as maternal leave or breastfeeding permission along with her absenteeism,
employers preferred to employ men.

            Neoliberalism
certainly affected Greece with eradication of existing social services. Most
basic services such as public hospitals have gone through fund crisis or public
workers payments were cut. Economic crisis along with limited social services
that are not funded constituted a dramatic economic picture. Even before the
economic crisis, unemployment rate was relatively high, around 11.4 percent by
2000 (OECD, 2018). Due to those economic issues in Greece women could not
simply withdrew from labor force. The traditional gender division of labor did
not end along with that and result was “superwoman” who worked for double
shift, both in paid work outside and unpaid work at home (Moreone, 2002). Thus,
women in Greece along with other Southern European states ‘had to manage’ and
provide their family both with income, housework and care work. There are
superwomen in Turkey as well, mostly in more professional careers, but as it
was mentioned majority seems to be discouraged by certain policies of the state
along with other factors which are not the subject of this paper.

5.Conclusion

            Policies
of the government are not the only factor that are shaping women’s
participation to employment, however I tried to show how employment policies of
government with or without gender perspective can influence it. We have seen
the impact that EU membership can create on women’s employment, along with how
different outcomes can neoliberal transformation produce when coincides with
different factors; neoconservatism in Turkey and economic crisis in Greece.
Although women’s employment is being announced as an issue of Greece in EU
(European Parliament, 2015), it still has a better situation for gender
equality in employment than Turkey. Under the neoliberal and neoconservative structure,
it doesn’t seem likely for situation in Turkey to change.