More and Better Jobs for Women: Women’s Empowerment through Decent Work in Turkey

The project aims at developing a national policy to promote women’s employment, creating decent work opportunities for women through active labour market policies and building awareness on gender equality and labour standards.

Project Background

Turkey faces a large gender gap in employment rates. Only one in every four women in Turkey is in the labour force and employed (female employment rate for 2014 is 26.7%). Plus, the labour market is segmented and segregated across gender. Women make up the majority of workers in sectors where low-skilled and low-paid occupations are prevalent such as textile, agriculture or services. Gender roles are highly influential in determining the forms of employment and occupations. These factors result in high gender pay gap and underutilization of women’s labour. Despite a recent increase in women’s employment, there is still a strong need for systematic and comprehensive gender sensitive employment policy to be developed and implemented.

There are various cross-cutting reasons behind the low rates of labour force participation and employment of women. Gender-based division of paid and unpaid labour and gender roles shaped upon this division play a significant role. In conjunction with these, a strong mismatch between the labour demand of the employers and the qualifications of the unemployed women is another reason. Thus, women’s employment has its social, cultural and political connotations as well as economic ones which cannot be decomposed easily and solutions require consistent policies and programmes addressing economic, political, social and cultural factors all together.
To address these challenges and help increase women’s labour force participation and employment rates in Turkey , the ILO Office for Turkey, in collaboration with the Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) developed “More and Better Jobs for Women” project, aiming at creating a comprehensive national policy to support women’s employment, while also increasing the skillset of women labour and creating awareness on gender equality.


The project implements integrated strategies including gender sensitive active labour market policies, gender-oriented training policies, and promoting gender equality concerns particularly at the local level. The project aims at integrating gender sensitive approaches into active labour market policies and identifying those occupations where there are more decent employment opportunities for women to be employed in the project provinces namely, Istanbul, Ankara, Bursa and Konya provinces. Through policies developed at national level such as National Action Plan on Women’s Employment and training modules on women’s human rights and rights at work to be integrated into vocational training courses, the project is expected to serve as a model for other provinces in advancing gender equality and providing decent work employment opportunities for women.

Since it is decent, formal and paid employment that empowers people and especially women, the project is designed to provide women with employment in male dominated sectors where decent work opportunities are more prevalent. In line with this, the employability of women is also expected to be developed through improved capacity and outreach of İSKUR and Provincial Employment and Vocational Training Boards as well as through preparation and implementation of a National Action Plan on Women’s Employment and Gender Equality. With the support of the project, İSKUR is expected to use its capacity to tailor its services to the emerging needs of the labour market for women. The project strategy anticipates a three dimension approach with the following components:
  • Develop and implement employment policies benefiting women within the framework of decent work and gender equality
  • Increase the employability of women and support unemployed women entering the labour market through effective job counselling and active labour market policies (ALMPs)
  • Integrate ILO’s rights-based approach into vocational training programmes and raise awareness on gender equality and labour standards


The project will:
  • Prepare Turkey’s first National Action Plan on Women’s Employment Develop women’s employment policies sensitive to gender equality.
  • Develop and implement effectively active labour market policies for women at local level through İSKUR and Public Employment and Vocational Training Boards.
  • Extend İSKUR services to unemployed women with limited access to such services.
  • Create decent work opportunities for women through better job matching.
  • Build awareness on gender equality and labour standards among men and women.

Key Partners

  • Turkish Employment Agency (ISKUR) and Ministry of Labour and Social Security;
  • Ministry of Family and Social Policies;
  • Provincial Employment and Vocational Training Boards in project provinces;
  • Municipalities in project provinces;
  • Workers (TÜRK-İŞ, HAK-İŞ, DİSK) and Employers (TİSK) Confederations;
  • Women NGOs

Project Web Sites: 

Gender Equality in the World of Work (Infographic)

Action Plan on Women’s Employment

Winning Film at Short Documentary Film Competition: The Hand of the Woman

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