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European Union Conditionality, Labour Law, and Women in Employment: The Case of Turkey

Final Report Summary - LABRLAW.EU.TR (European Union Conditionality, Labour Law, and Women in Employment: The Case of Turkey)

The main priority of the initial stage of this project was to discuss and explore the major arguments as well as evidence about women’s work by making use of sociological and economic literature, policy debates, and feminist theory. In order to introduce the problem, I did literature review on women and work in history, culture, and the economy. Since this project was based on an intersectional approach to gender discrimination in employment which connects categories of identities like sex, ethnicity, class, age, disability within a historical, cultural and economic analysis, I first looked at theories and concepts highlighting the forms and sources of stratification, and the structure of contemporary inequalities that we are facing now. For example, the book, Social Stratification: Class, Race and Gender in Sociological Perspective, which was edited by David Grusky (2008), has been very helpful in understanding the historical transition of gendered inequalities in employment and work organizations.
Within my new research interest, feminist political economy and law, I became familiar with the works of feminist economists and policy analysts, which question the gender blindness of the traditional economic model. The writers like Crouch et al. (1997), Korpi (2000), Sassen (1996) and Walby (1999) have developed my interdisciplinary approach to research by pointing out that it is of high importance to combine economics, law, and sociology to better analyse what is really happening to the women in employment. These scholars are successful in critiquing the fundamental properties of the standard economic model that it is “choice-based.” According to feminist economists, women cannot always make their own choice to enter and/or stay in employment simply because they are bounded with family responsibilities, societal expectations to comply with the female roles, discrimination and gendered wage gap in the labour market, and gendered organizational inequalities. Feminist policy makers, on the other hand, take attention to the underestimation of women in law by claiming that women’s needs and problems are not met with the laws and policies. Feminist policy research puts gender to the core by asking how gender is constructed in state policies especially in the context of employment. The issues of family forms (Lewis, 2001), child care (Michel and Mahon, 2001; Daly and Lewis, 2000), equal pay (Kahn and Meehan, 1992), job training (Mazur, 2001), and welfare regimes (O’Connor et al., 1999) have brought social care, sexuality, and reproduction to the states’ policy agenda.
I also did some background work specifically on labour law. Davies’ (2009) book, “Perspectives on Labour Law”, is also very crucial in understanding the history of labour law, the economics perspectives on labour law, and the human rights perspectives on labour law. [A.C.L Davies Cambridge University Press Second Edition 2009 New York] In addition to this, I had the chance to review the accounts on the limitation of the Principle of Equal Treatment in the Labour Law of Turkey that was enacted in 2003. Firstly, the Article 5 of the Labour Act explicitly states that discrimination based on gender is not allowed, but unlike the Directives of the EU on equal treatment in employment it does not cover access to employment (Sural, 2007: 813). In addition to that, while the Article 5 of the Turkish Labour Act prohibits direct and indirect discrimination on the basis of gender, it does not provide any definition for direct and indirect discrimination. Thirdly, paternity leave does not exist in Turkey. Fourthly, the term ‘sexual harassment’ is not explicitly used in the Act, but can be interpreted within the context of ‘immoral behaviour or misconduct’ (Sural, 2007: 818). Through this way, I developed an understanding about the critiques related to the aim and scope of the Act.
Before leaving Koc University, I also had started preparing a project proposal to be submitted to TUBITAK's (The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey) funds under the national programs support. I was going to apply for 1001-The Support Program for Scientific and Technological Research Project. [Please see attached.]
Since June 2012, I had actively taken part in the establishment of a cooperation between Koc University Centre for Gender and Women’s Studies (KOC-KAM) and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). During this time, I had the privilege to collaborate with Mrs. Saniye Gulser Corat, the Director of the Division for Gender Equality at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in the design of a project concerning the formation of gender equality learning programs for organizations in Turkey. I was coordinating the project of “Gender Certificate Program- Integrating Gender in Corporate Decision Making.” since I had an expertise on the field of Sociology of Gender, Work and Organizations. My aim was to adapt the ‘Gender Equality Learning Program’ of United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to the Turkish standards and make the training program -the first gender training in Turkey and the first certificate given by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Turkey- to be utilized by companies. Koc University was going to be the first institution to be provided the training. [Koc University has actually signed for the cooperation with UNESCO on 26.06.2013.] [Please see attached.]
I also applied to the 2012 Fall Teaching Innovation Grants Program that was provided by the Koc Office of Learning and Teaching (KOLT) at Koc University. The program would award up to seven grants to the members of the faculty to develop and lead an undergraduate course to implement methods that promote active student learning. For this application, I designed a new elective course, which was called Diversity in Organizations, to be offered to the third year sociology undergraduates. The course was going to focus on the theories, concepts and debates related to the issue of diversity in organizations. It was going to be explained how interpersonal, social, cultural, structural and economic dynamics within and outside organizations affect people working in organizations differently in terms of opportunities, challenges, and trade-offs. Following an interdisciplinary approach, the course was going to discuss the issue of diversity in organizations in relation to the key concepts, such as identity, culture, power, and inequality. At the end of this course, the students would acquire a better understanding of the effects of diversity on formal and informal work processes and practices in a variety of organizations. [Please see attached.]