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Construction of woman hood through fıtrat, the case of female preachers in Turkey

Ergin, Betül
This thesis aims to analyze how womanhood has been constructed with the concept of fıtrat through the professional activities of female preachers who work at Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı. The main objective of the study is to examine the policy of increasing employment of women and activities for them at the institution since 2004. A specific focus is given to the transformation of the institution under the rule of the AKP government, especially by 2010, since its duties and responsibilities were expanded to include women, family, and disadvantageous groups. Meanwhile, AKP favored a more dominant position in politics for the instrumentalization of various state institutions. Since the first public declaration of R.T. Erdoğan about his disbelief in gender equality in 2010, together with a particular Islamic reference to the concept of fıtrat, the gender policies and discourses of AKP have been increasingly framed within the scope of this concept. The concept of fıtrat has been mobilized together with the conceptualization of gender justice for challenging gender equality. The works of female preachers, especially in the Family and Religious Guidance Bureaus connected to Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı, have been redesigned to disseminate the gender ideology of the AKP government. To understand the construction of proper womanhood within and through v the profession, in-depth interviews were conducted with thirteen women who work at Diyanet İşleri Başkanlığı. The life narratives of women are analyzed in terms of their perspectives on the concept of fıtrat, gender justice, and women’s employment concerning women’s roles and responsibilities.