When she is thought as an entirely separated republic from the Ottoman Empire, Turkey can be considered as a new born country. Despite her newness, she had experienced a lot of changes, developments and various significant incidents. Women s emancipation process in Turkey is a very good example for a significant incident, dependently a rapid change for an Islamic country. As a result of these two, this process is a considerable development in Turkey s way to westernization. Turkey was also lucky because there was Ataturk who made successful reforms through a very clever point of view and made the public accept the necessity of the reforms. These reforms are evaluated by a lot of scholars and the opinions of the scholars differ at various point of the debate. The scholars mainly do not agree on the aimed purposes and the expected consequences. Some say the women are being used as tools for national development (Arat, Z. 1994) while others disagree with this opinion and believe that the women is at the first place rather than modernization. As the scholars are evaluating the purposes and results of the reforms, they also criticize Ataturk. Ataturk stressed the need of modernization through westernization and his reforms were according to this ideology. Some scholars say that Ataturk used emancipation process of women, in order to create a new image for Turkey in order to be accepted by Western countries, on the other side some say that it was for the benefits of men reversibly by creating
better wives and mothers , but all scholars agree on one of the consequences of the process, that is the reforms could not reach the whole public, it only served the predominantly urban female elite
First of all Ataturk s effort to emancipate women in Turkey is criticized by some scholars because they see the reforms as symbols to impress the western countries. Women in Turkey were given the right to vote, before almost all of the European countries women. Turkey presented itself as a country that granted political rights to its women, thereby symbolically claiming a rightful place among Western democratic nations. (Abadan-Unat, N. 1991) Also Zehra Arat in her article interprets a part of Ataturk s speech about the new and old dressing styles of Turkish people as: the goal is not to free women from social control, but to transform Turkey into a civilized nation acceptable to the West. (1994) Berktay, in her article, generalize the opinions of Abadan-Unat and Zehra Arat and states, women have often been used as symbols or metaphors for orientalism, nationalism, westernization and various religious ideologies. (Berktay, F. 1995) Yesim Arat interprets the situation by approaching it within the history and comes up with a relatively positive and realistic criticism. Two Kemalist reforms were particularly responsible for dramatic improvements in women s lives namely, 1926 adoption of the Swiss civil code and the 1934 passage of universal suffrage. These two reforms also played significant roles in the Westernization process. (Arat. Y. Women s Movement 1994) Ataturk was concerned with the new Turkey s image, too. Ataturk was anxious to present to the world a modern face (Abadan-Unat, The Legal Status 1990)
Another discussion about the reforms is that they were made for the benefits of men. Men were again put in the first place and women were again the second issue. Since Turkey was mostly an agricultural country it is woman s duty to look after her children, and this duty was coming before her duty of making money. First example before making money that comes first in the
lifetime is education. They were given the right to freely be educated but the lessons had were mostly emphasized on the duties of them as females more than teaching them anything related to science. Some schools were geared toward training skilled industrial laborers or technicians, but those designed as girls schools, especially the Girls Institutes, emphasized home economics, child care, cooking sewing. (Arat, Z p.7) On the other hand, Ataturk introduced civil code to women. Some scholars considered this new code as not giving the equal rights to women as men s. The
Civil code, that one scholar interprets as an important step, is criticized differently by another. It is said that civil code was dominating the men or in other words husband even though it was taken from a European country. The family institution in the civil code was one of the subjects that the scholars often point out. The wife was explicitly made to play a secondary role as helper to the husband for the happiness of the family. (Arat, Yesim 1994) Zehra Arat explains her thoughts about one of Ataturk s speeches as: Ataturk attributes men central importance and assigns women a peripheral role, as indirect facilitator of the modernization process. It is very clear at this point that the scholar clearly mentions that in her opinion Ataturk was the reformer of the men and he used women through this process. She also adds in another part of her article that Female education, for example, was promoted mainly with a concern about women s influence over their male offspring, because they were the children s first instructors. (Arat, Z. 1994)
The laws legitimized the reforms. It was expected from reforms affect the public at the same rate. This idea was wrong because there were classes in the public and Turkey was an Islamic country and mostly the people living in rural areas valued traditions. Socio-economic indicators have proved that the majority of Turkish women still endorse traditional values and mores, reflecting the attitudes of conservative rural community. (Abadan-Unat, N. 1991) It can be concluded that the traditions and being uneducated prevent women to think about their
emancipation. As a result they do not get aware of the significance of liberating themselves. Abadan-Unat proves her statement by mentioning the fact that there is only a small group of elites that try hard to revolute themselves and affect the whole other women in Turkey.
Consequently, there are a lot of points the scholars disagree, they view the speeches and the reforms from their own aspects. When these three issues are viewed together in a framework, they all are for the benefits of Turkish people. Westernization and modernization is two fundamental concepts that are aimed at by the developing countries. Ataturk was a clever man. When he made a reform, he purpose to change a lot with one reform. So it is not possible to say one consequence for his one reform. That is the reason why there are various points of view in the debate of women s emancipation process. It is very hard to look the process from a one point because it has various consequences. These purposes and consequences of the process is criticized because the real purpose is very complex, including a self-image for Turkey to modernization. Reforms were using women because they need to be modernized and liberated in order to be open minded and raise intelligent generations. This determines the future of a nation.
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