Turkey president says women are not equal to men

World Today

In a startling speech at the International Women and Justice Summit on Monday, Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the need for equality between men and women saying it was “against nature”. CCTV America’s Natalie Carney reported this story from Istanbul, Turkey.

Turkey president says women are not equal to men

In a startling speech at the International Women and Justice Summit on Monday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan dismissed the need for equality between men and women saying it was "against nature". CCTV America's Natalie Carney reported this story from Istanbul, Turkey.

Erdogan said that he does not believe in gender equality, and that men and women have differing societal roles that should be recognized.

“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different,” said Erdogan. “Our Islam religion has given a position to women. What is that position? It is the position of motherhood.”

His remarks were met with applause at the meeting and in the streets of Istanbul.

“I believe what he said is right. A man cannot breastfeed a baby, but a woman can and carry that baby for nine months. And we cannot do work that requires heavy power. I believe Erdogan meant that,” said Aysen Gemici, an Istanbul resident.

In Turkey’s patriarchal culture, Erdogan’s comments on the traditional role of women as mothers and homemakers have wide reach. However many woman’s rights activists said these views were outdated.

“There are men that are not fathers, and there are many woman who are not mothers, and they are all equal citizens and all equal human beings. He is speaking to a certain part of society, mostly the religious population,” said Gönül Karahanoğlu, the chairwoman of the Turkish women’s rights group KA.DER.

Some analysts said that Erdogan’s remarks were in line with his religious beliefs.

“In the Koran, it is said that the man dominates the woman. But this is the figure of the man in a family. Every company has an owner, every school has a principal. Erdogan was selected three times as a leader by considering the religious characteristics of his party. The voters prioritized his religious life so this is normal for Mr. Erdogan to emphasizes some religious elements,” said Ekrem Bugra Ekinci, the professor of Islamic Law at Marmara University.

This is just the latest in a string of controversial statements by the president regarding woman. In the past, he has urged women to have three children and lashed out against abortion and birth by caesarean section.