Promoting Women’s employment
The extremely low rate of women’s employment explains much of the difference between the Turkish and EU labour markets. While the male employment rate was 73.9% and close to the EU average in 2007, it was only 26.1% for women, a figure dramatically lower than the European average of 58.3%. Overall, labour force participation for women in urban areas is lower than in rural areas, pointing to the difficulties many women have in integrating to urban settings. Women’s employment is also hindered by cultural and traditional stereotypes prevalent in the country. Hence, drastic action was necessary to enhance the participation rate of women in the labour market.
The aims of the project and its core activities
The objective of this project was assist the Turkish Employment Agency (İŞKUR) in delivering more effective public employment services, particularly to women at local level, as well as to provide direct support to women to become employable through local projects implemented by NGOs, local authorities, education institutions, etc.
This aim involved developing and piloting a model, in consultation with all relevant stakeholders and on the basis of a review of İŞKUR’s existing and planned employment policies in this field, for local strategies to promote women’s entry into the workforce. The model included a shared methodology on assessing local women’s employment issues and the existing employment services delivered, selecting new development priorities and establishing an action plan. Staff from provincial İŞKUR offices and partners in the provincial employment and vocational training boards were guided in implementing these active labour market policies models and made more aware of the need for gender mainstreaming in employment policy.
In addition, labour market surveys and analyses, addressing both the demand and the supply side, were conducted in the pilot provinces to get a clearer view of the employment opportunities available for women as well as their own suitability, needs and expectations.
In the pilot areas, women were offered career information, vocational guidance and counselling services as part of an awareness-raising campaign. Networking activities were also encouraged between groups of women sharing common characteristics, such as age, educational level, working experience, family workload, religious and cultural backgrounds and place of residence.
The 131 local projects that were implemented have helped improve women’s employability in different sectors, support women’s entrepreneurship and diminish cultural and other obstacles that hinder women’s participation in the labour market. Thousands of women have benefited from the projects and are now better placed to find jobs in the formal market.