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“The Role of Urbanization in Female Empowerment: the Turkish Case in Comparative Perspective”

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Female Empowerment (“The Role of Urbanization in Female Empowerment: the Turkish Case in Comparative Perspective”)

Reporting period: 2016-04-01 to 2018-03-31

The project proposed to tackle the issue of gender inequality throughout the world, especially in male-dominated, patriarchal societies and pinpoint the ways to enhance women's empowerment in the areas of education, economics, and politics. The project mainly analyzed these issues under urban settings in which women acquire new benefits yet they still cope with existing and/or new challenges.

The world is urbanizing very fast and this societal change brings about revolutionary changes in the social fabric of many nation-states. By focusing on the Turkish case in a comparative perspective, the project studied the impact of urbanization on women's empowerment in patriarchal societies. The project found out that women have major gains thanks to urbanization against all odds in male-dominated societies such as Turkey. However, without supporting women's struggles with appropriate nation-wide institutional framework and policies and an overhaul of societal relations that favor men, the project argued that it is impossible to fully eradicate gender inequality in patriarchal societies even with structural changes such as urbanization and modernization.

The project had three main objectives:

a) exploring the socioeconomic, political, and demographic dynamics behind women's empowerment, especially the opportunities deriving from societal changes such as urbanization

b) finding out the obstacles against women's empowerment in patriarchal societies and offering policy recommendations to overcome those obstacles for more egalitarian societies

c) bringing fresh perspectives to the study of women's empowerment in the world conceptually and methodologically
In addressing the first and second objectives, the project started with a global-scale analysis of women's empowerment. The fellow investigated the relationship between urbanization and female empowerment based on a global-scale, original dataset that covers all the available information about urbanization and female empowerment at the country level. Such an approach ensured a data coverage between 1960 to present for over 160 countries throughout the world. The fellow studied the linkage between urbanization and women's empowerment, controlling for the state and quality of democracy and the level of economic affluence and found out a positive effect of urbanization on women's empowerment, especially in the area of education.

The fellow then started to focus on the Turkish case and analyzed the relationship between urbanization and female empowerment in patriarchal societies such as Turkey. The fellow conducted both statistical, quantitative analysis at the national level, as well as qualitative, in-depth research to better understand the factors for and against women's empowerment in urban settings in patriarchal communities. The fellow created and led a research team composed of political scientists, sociologists, and economists, which thoroughly explored the obstacles against women's empowerment and the possible ways to enhance it. The project underlined the societal and institutional hurdles to overcome for gender equality in male-dominated societies and pinpointed several policy recommendations toward women's empowerment (such as enacting affirmative action policies for women's cooperatives and civil society organizations, establishing quotas for women's representation in politics). Along with its policy aspect, the project also had major academic impact, including publications in leading gender studies and development journals such as Politics&Gender and World Development, as well as several other publications, conference and public talks, and attended workshops. All in all, the fellow has had a very productive project time, which addressed and fulfilled all of the main objectives of the project.
"Compared to previous studies, this research engaged in a more comprehensive and systematic inquiry regarding women's empowerment. The fellow assumed a multi-method, multi-level approach for the study of female empowerment, which combines qualitative and quantitative techniques at the individual, national, and global levels. This ensured a more thorough analysis of women's empowerment, which goes beyond the existing approaches in the extant literature. Besides its replicable nature for further advancement of research in future studies by other scholors, the research represented a substantial contribution in the fields of gender studies, development, and democratization.

Besides its academic contribution,the project also has major policy implications. Female empowerment is one of the most important vehicles for the overall welfare of societies. By pointing out the socioeconomic and political conditions that support female empowerment and the ones that impede it,the project has urged policymakers to adopt their policies accordingly. These have been realized via workshop activities,conference and public talks,articles in academic journals etc. Furthermore,during our extensive fieldwork throughout Turkey, our research team have acted a bridging mechanism among different women's cooperatives and civil society organizations in Turkey by increasing their contact with each other,talking about and sharing the ""best practices"" in Turkey and beyond based on our academic research and practical findings in the fieldwork,encouraging them to participate in more cooperation with other civil society organizations,providing advice about project support(from international organizations such as ILO, UNDP, EU) and policymaking steps. During the tenure of this project,the fellow has found the chance to get in contact with so many people in Turkey and beyond, who are keen on making our world a more equitable one with higher gender equality in all walks of life. This has certainly been an enriching experience,not only for the fellow,but also those who participated in the project one way or the other.

In conclusion, the project has been very illuminating to understand the dynamics behind women's empowerment in patriarchal societies and the possible pathways to realize it."
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