An Analysis of women's cooperatives in urban Turkey in terms of women's empowerment

Varol, Fatma Cansu
Especially recently, cooperatives occupy the global agenda as efficient organizations that contribute to mainstream development goals. However, cooperatives, which may also emerge as grassroots organizations, could create an alternative through empowering women socially, economically and politically. In this respect, this study investigates the impact of women’s cooperatives on women’s empowerment in urban Turkey. Empowerment Approach composes the theoretical framework of this study. Primarily, the mainstream development approach, Women in Development approach and Gender and Development approach are analyzed critically which are the precursors of Empowerment Approach. Later, Empowerment Approach is analyzed, and benefiting from postmodern approaches that emphasize the importance of local ways of knowing and doing, empowerment is defined as a process that fulfills practical and strategic gender needs through power within, power with and power to, which are generative forms of power. Through field research conducted in Istanbul and its periphery, I concluded that: 1) Women’s conceptualization of empowerment overlapped with my conceptualization of power with and power within. However women did not mention power to as power or empowerment. 2) Rather than practical or strategic gender needs, women mostly fulfill psychological and social needs through cooperative involvement. This category emerged as a third category that should be added to practical and strategic gender needs framework. 3) Women’s cooperatives empower women through power within and power with, which in turn mostly fulfill social, psychological and practical gender needs. Power to is not revealed through cooperative membership which is in fact a sin qua non aspect of empowerment.
Citation Formats
F. C. Varol, “An Analysis of women’s cooperatives in urban Turkey in terms of women’s empowerment,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2013.