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Party Politics of the AKP (2002-2007) and the Predicaments of Women at the Intersection of the Westernist, Islamist and Feminist Discourses in Turkey

2008-01-01
Ayata, Ayşe
Tuetuencue, Fatma
Celebrating the World Women's Day and initiating a conference for promoting Turkey's integration to Europe on the one hand, and discussing the discrimination against women on the ground of human rights and even harbouring the radical protest from left-wing as well as the Islamist women on the other, the women auxiliaries of AKP (Adalet ve Kalkmma Partisi, Justice and Development Party) seemingly position themselves at the very intersection of various political discourses including Westernism, feminism, liberalism and Islamism. Articulating these disparate discourses, however, requires a meticulous selectivity and a specific political strategy. Is this discursive selectivity inevitable for an overtly religious party in a modern nation-state where secularism and integration into the European civilisation have dominated the state ideology since its foundation? What are the reactions of outsiders, especially of European countries? More specifically, what are the repercussions of this strategic mentality in terms of the women's question? Does it attract various women's groups and thus create solidarity among different voices? Or on the contrary does it not truncate or even silence the demands of women? This paper discusses the women politicians in the AKP as well as its policies on gender equality and relations. It aims to analyze the party on three angles: women's representations and visibility, changes in political ideology and rhetoric, and the adaptation of party organization to the demands of women.