The Substantive Representation of Women in Turkey: Examining the Impact of Gender and Intersecting Identities in the Legislative Arena



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In this dissertation, I studied political representation of women, particularly women’s substantive representation. Women’s exclusion from politics has been the unprecedented fact in history. The last decades have witnessed an increase in women’s political engagement and their election to public office with the changing roles of women, particularly the incorporation of women into the labor force. This change in the so-called “descriptive” representation of women has fostered research on their behavior in office, the challenges they confront, and to what extent their actions differ from those of men in office. I examined the representation of women in the Turkish parliament in a context where Islam is the predominant religion of the country. More specifically, I investigate whether the descriptive representation has any substantive significance. I analyzed the policy priorities of women in parliament by examining bill initiation and parliamentary speeches. There are two main research questions that my dissertation investigates. First, I look at whether legislative behavior differs across gender. Second, I investigate how intersection of gender with religion and ethnicity interact to affect the legislative behavior. I used a novel dataset created by collecting and content coding over 5100 parliamentary documents including parliamentary bills and parliamentary speeches. The results showed that the descriptive representation led to substantive representation. Female legislators’ legislative agenda differ from the agendas of their male colleagues. There are significant gender differences in policy areas that can be categorized along the traditional distinction between women’s and men’s issues. The results also revealed that the interaction of gender with religion and ethnicity has a driven effect on the priorities of members of parliament.



Gender politics, Legislative politics, Turkish Politics