Women’s rights foundations have been left seething about the ruling party’s decision to alter the name of a long-awaited proposed gender equality commission.
The Commission of Equality Between Men and Women, which defenders of women’s rights have been working on for 12 years, has finally made it to Parliament’s agenda but many women’s rights groups are angry that the ruling party has altered its name to The Commission of Equal Opportunity for Men and Women.
Dozens of women’s rights foundations have sent faxes to Parliament after the name change. "Equal opportunity is a policy envisaging ’equal treatment’ of sides, not removing the present inequality between men and women. This name preserves the present inequality."
The messages also mention that many European countries do not use the term "equal opportunity" anymore. Defenders of women’s rights have been trying to establish a parliamentary commission for equality between men and women for years now. The commission would provide the opportunity to evaluate each bill on Parliament’s agenda in terms of equality between sexes and intervene if necessary.
Committee approves bill
The draft bill passed through the Constitutional Committee last month, but based on a proposal by female deputies of the Justice and Development Party, or AKP, the name of the commission was changed. While the bill was still under discussion, the name change was voted on and approved by Parliament last Thursday.
As opposition reaction to this move was fierce, Nimet Çubukçu, state minister in charge of women’s and children’s affairs, said, "I am having a hard time understanding why the change in the name of the commission is being transformed into a political issue and a matter of dispute."
More than 50 women’s rights foundations from all over the country have released a joint declaration against the change that read: "The foundation of this commission under the name of ’equal opportunity for men and women’ is a backward step on the way to equality. Equal opportunity is a policy foreseeing ’equal treatment’ of sides, not removing the present inequality between men and women. It preserves the present inequality. That is why many European countries do not use the term ’equal opportunity’ anymore. We, the women, do not want opportunity, but real equality."
The minimum attendance of 184 deputies needed to be present in Parliament to pass the bill into law could not be met last Thursday. Some parts of the bills were not discussed. Discussion of the bill is set to reconvene Feb. 17.