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The Politics of women‟s rights reforms during the early republican era: state feminism versus pioneer women

Sadi, Hande İrem
The objective of this thesis study is to analyze the nature, objectives and the repercussions of “state feminism” which pioneered the secularization and modernization reforms during the early Republican period in Turkey (from 1923s to the 1940s) and implemented in the context of an authoritarian regime until the late 1940s. It emphasizes the continuity between Ottoman-Turkish modernization and the Republican transformation of women‟s rights by inquiring into the stands of nationalist and feminist modernizing women pioneers vis-à-vis egalitarian reform policies of the male-dominated state in the context of state and nation- building processes. This study especially focuses on the impact of a dilemma created for the women activists of the era, who were committed to the nationalist- collectivist ideals of the Republic as well as to the women‟s rights. To this end, it aims to contribute to the critical examination of the egalitarian reforms of the early Republican era by analyzing the emancipatory ideals and discourses of the prominent women activists, Nezihe Muhiddin and Halide Edip. While both women were committed to the Kemalist revolution and held feminist ideals, both were silenced by the authoritarian regime and experienced this dilemma.