Success Defies the Dogmas of the System
The first president of the W20 Gulden Turktan will be the speaker at the W20 open session at the Second Eurasian Women's Forum.
The issue of women’s employment remains relevant not only in Turkey, but in most countries of the world. Therefore, we must work together, joining efforts “to break the glass ceiling to bring more gender diversity to senior management of enterprises, to fight poverty and pay inequality”. This position of the Women-20 (W20) and one of its leaders, Gulden Turktan, sets forth the G20’s pursuance of economic development based on gender equality. To a large extent, complementing the similar initiatives of UN Women and the APEC Women Forum, the W20 assists women to actively overcome barriers to career development that exist in a number of countries around the world. Which programs are more efficient? In which countries does the aid mechanism often stalls and why? These are just some of the issues on the agenda of the W20 St. Petersburg meeting.
Gulden Turktan advocates for decisive actions to strengthen the role of women in the economy. Having founded and headed the Women 20 (W20) in 2015, Ms Turktan saw her mission as the president of the organization in reducing the gap between the participation rates of men and women by 25% by year 2025. At the summit in Austria (2014) G20 member-countries pledged to this mission.
At the first W20 summit (Istanbul, October 2015), President of Turkey Mr Erdogan emphasized that, despite the women getting the adequate status, economic goals were not achieved.
“Quality development means more jobs, higher living standards and an honest distribution of wealth. The W20 bears a huge responsibility here and makes relevant proposals to the agenda of the G20.” (Recep Erdogan)
In turn, Chairman of the Board of the Women’s Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGIDER), Gulden Turktan, turned attention to the fact that the established working group can become a test case for any country.
“Establishing a women’s group is important from the standpoint of translating the expectations of the G20 countries, and it can also become a model for the whole world,” noted Gulden Turktan.
In her welcoming speech Ms Turktan emphasized that the countries of the world are anticipating the first results of the working group. “Once again this marks the relevance of the topic,” she said. Chairman of the Board also mentioned that the G20 countries although diverse in the scale of their economies, are similar in the ease of finding a job for men, whereas women still have to fight for their participation in business.
According to the Turkish Statistical Institute, out of 27 million of employable Turkish women only 7 million have a chance to find a decent job. This suggests that the working potential of women is significantly underestimated.
In this regard, the first W20 communiqué was based on a common resolution to call on the leaders of the G20 to advance female agenda by strengthening the links between education, employment and entrepreneurship.
It is also necessary to maintain life–work balance of women in senior positions, ensure their access to finance, eliminate discrimination in the workplace, support women’s networks and enterprises owned by women. The members of the W20 agreed to take an active part in monitoring these processes and asked the leaders of the G20 to prepare a metric to track progress in the advancement of women in the economy.
Gulden Turktan believes that comprehensive gender mainstreaming and gender equality are essential “for strong, sustainable and balanced development of various aspects within the state and for international cooperation”.
Ms Turktan is an experienced executive working with human resources. She held senior positions in many non-governmental organizations.
Gulden points out the entrepreneurial “positive attitude and foresight” as the main factors of business success.
By the way, the issue of gender inequality has a slightly different sounding in Russia that in most G20 countries. Although business in Russia is still predominantly male, it is worth noting that in the transitional 1990s the resilience and endurance of women often allowed them to break new grounds of the economy, while their companions went through tough times of realigning with new reality. And even now some men, primarily undereducated groups maintain paternalistic views on the role of women in the economy, politics, or any other field for that matter.
Meanwhile, in Turkey, historical and religious factors make it much harder for a woman to enter politics or run her own business:
“Being a businesswoman in Turkey means at times to success despite the views of the family and husband, to go beyond social norms and against the system.”
However, it is these women who resist the out-dated traditions, according to Gulden Turktan, have every chance to make the Turkish economy “dynamic and fair for women”.
Today, the ex-Chairman of the W20 proposes to include women’s agenda in all aspects of the W20’s work (macroeconomics, global economic management, budgeting, etc.) and sets the task of “reminding” G20 about the commitment undertaken three years ago to create opportunities for women to participate in the business life of their country.
“Successful women serve as role models and inspire other women. In the end, all we need is to inspire others and get inspired by them,” says Gulden Turktan.
Tina Stankevich, Eurasian Women's Community Information Agency