Record number of Kurdish women elected to Turkish parliament

Kurdish female deputies

Dilek Öcalan, niece of Abdullah Öcalan, the jailed founder of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK), is one of a record number of female MPs entering the Turkish parliament.

A total of 96 women won seats in Turkey’s Grand National Assembly in Sunday’s elections, bringing the proportion of female deputies to a historic high of 17%, compared with 14% after the 2011 elections.

Abdullah Öcalan is serving a life sentence for his role as one of the founders of the Kurdish separatist PKK, which in the 1980s was involved in armed conflict in which an estimated 40,000 people died.

Dilek Öcalan, 28, of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic party (HDP), was elected in Şanlıurfa, in the country’s south near the Syrian border. The result there is illustrative of how the HDP cut into the vote of the ruling Justice and Development party (AKP) in Kurdish regions. In 2011 the AKP won 10 of the available 12 seats in Şanlıurfa; this year it won seven, with the HDP picking up the remaining five.

The HDP is the first pro-Kurdish party to achieve more than 10% of the national vote, the threshold for parliamentary representation. It won 80 seats while the AKP failed to amass the 276 required to form a majority government.

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The HDP campaigned on leftwing issues such as raising the minimum wage and improving access to university education, and on a platform of gender equality, promising to create a ministry of women and make International Women’s Day a national holiday.

The party has male and female co-chairs and a near-50% quota for female candidates and 10% quota for LGBT candidates. It charges women half as much as men to stand as candidates. Such policies are yielding results: 268 of the HDP’s 550 candidates were women, and 31 (39%) of its 80 elected MPs.

Along with Öcalan, the party’s female MPs include Leyla Zana, a Kurdish politician who spent 10 years in jail after she was deemed to be “against the unity of the country” because of her political activism. Zana was first elected in 1991, becoming the first Kurdish woman to win a seat in the Grand National Assembly, and caused controversy by speaking in Kurdish at her swearing-in. At the time it was illegal to speak Kurdish in public places, and until that year it had been illegal to speak Kurdish even in private.

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Another notable election winner is Şafak Pavey, of the Republican People’s party (CHP), who retained her seat in Istanbul. Pavey worked as a journalist and then for the United Nations before embarking on her political career. She lost her left arm and left leg in a train accident in Switzerland when she was 20 and was the first disabled woman to be elected to the Turkish parliament.

Almost all the parties increased their proportion of female MPs at this election. The CHP, the main opposition party with 25% of the vote, now has 20 female MPs out of its total of 132 (15%), up from 19 out of 135 (14%) at the last election.

The ruling AKP has 41 female MPs, down from 46 in 2011 but an improvement from 14% to 16% of its total. Only the Nationalist Movement party (MHP) saw a proportional decrease, from three out of 53 in 2011 to four out of 80 this time.

The woman deputies in the parliament are;

ADANA : Fatma Güldemet Sarı (AKP), Elif Doğan Türkmen (CHP), Meral Danış Beştaş (HDP)

AFYON : Remziye Sıvacı (AKP), Burcu Kayıkcı (CHP)

AĞRI : Leyla Zana (HDP), Dirayet Taşdemir (HDP)

AKSARAY : İlknur İnceöz (AKP)

ANKARA : Jülide Sarıeroğlu (AKP), Tülay Selamoğlu (AKP), Lütfiye Selva Çam (AKP), Ayşe Gülsün Bilgehan (CHP), Aylin Nazlıaka (CHP), Şenal Sarıhan (CHP), Zühal Topcu (MHP)

ANTALYA: Gökcen Özdoğan Enç (AKP), Sena Nur Çelik (AKP)

BALIKESİR: Sema Kırcı (AKP)

BATMAN : Saadet Becerikli (HDP), Ayşe Acar Başaran (HDP)

BİNGÖL: Şebnem Koçakeli (AKP)

BİTLİS : Mizgin Irgat (HDP)

BURSA : Emine Yavuz Gözgeç (AKP), Bennur Karaburun (AKP), Lale Karabıyık (CHP), Nurhayat Altaca Kayıoğlu (CHP), Asiye Kolçak (HDP)

ÇORUM : Lütfiye İlksen Ceritoğlu Murt (AKP)

DENİZLİ : Melike Basmacı (CHP), Gülizar Biçer Karaca (CHP)

DİYARBAKIR : Nursel Aydoğan (HDP), Feleknas Uca (HDP), Çağlar Demirel (HDP), Sibel Yiğitalp (HDP)

DÜZCE : Ayşe Keşir (AKP)

ELAZIĞ :Serpil Bulut (AKP)

ERZURUM :Zehra Taşkeneslioğlu (AKP), Seher Akçınar Bayar (HDP)

ESKİŞEHİR :Gaye Usluer (CHP), Ruhsar Demirel (MHP)

ANTEP : Canan Candemir çelik (AKP)

HAKKARİ : Selma Irmak (HDP)

IĞDIR : Kıznaz Türkeli (HDP)

İSTANBUL : Mihrimah Belma Satır (AKP), Ravza Kavakcı Kan (AKP), Alev Dedegil (AKP), Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı (AKP), Fatma Benli (AKP), Sevim Savaşer (AKP), Özlem Zengin (AKP), Tülay Kaynarca (AKP), Şafak Pavey (CHP), Gamze Akkuy İlgezdi (CHP), Selina Doğan (CHP), Gülay Yedekci Arslan (CHP), Didem Engin (CHP), Bihlun Tamaylıgil (CHP), Meral Akşener (MHP), Arzu Erdem (MHP), Hüda Kaya (HDP), Filiz Kerestecioğlu (HDP), Pervin Buldan (HDP), Emine Beyza Üstün (HDP)

İZMİR : Selin Sayek Böme (CHP), Zeynep Altıok (CHP), Fatma Seniha Nükhet Hotar (AKP), Nesrim Ulema (AKP)

MARAŞ : Nursel Reyhanlıoğlu (AKP), Sevde Beyazıt Kaçar (AKP)

KARS : Şafak Özanli (HDP)

KAYSERİ : Havva Talay Çalık (AKP)

KOCAELİ : Radiye Sezer Katırcıoğlu (AKP), Fatma Kaplan Hürriyet (CHP)

KONYA : Hüsnüye Erdoğan (AKP), Leyla Şahin Usta (AKP), Rüveyde Gülseren Işık (AKP)

MALATYA : Öznur Çalık (AKP)

MANİSA : Tur Yıldız Biçer (CHP)

MARDİN : Gülser Yıldırım (HDP), Enise Güneyli (HDP)

MERSİN : Çilem Öz (HDP)

MUŞ : Burcu Çelik Özkan (HDP)

SAKARYA : Ayşenur İslam (AKP)

SAMSUN : Çiğdem Karaaslan (AKP)

SİİRT : Hatice Seviptekin (HDP)

URFA : Hamide Sürücü (AKP), Dilek Öcalan (HDP), Leyla Güven (HDP)

ŞIRNAK : Leyla Birlik (HDP), Aycan İrmez (HDP)

TEKİRDAĞ : Candan Yüceer (CHP), Ayşe Doğan (AKP)

TOKAT : Fatma Gaye Güler (AKP)

TRABZON : Ayşe Sula Köseoğlu (AKP)

DERSİM : Edibe Şahin (HDP)

VAN : Figen Yüksekdağ Şenoğlu (HDP), Yurdusev Özsökmenler (HDP), Tuğba Hezer (HDP)

Source: The Guardian, ANF

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