EBRD, ILO and Union of Municipalities of Turkey join forces to promote women’s employment

By Olga Rosca

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  • EBRD, ILO and Union of Municipalities of Turkey embark on new initiative to empower women
  • Partners to propose policy changes for municipal childcare services
  • Affordable and quality childcare options can increase women’s labour-force participation

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Union of Municipalities of Turkey (UMT) are joining forces to promote more accessible childcare with the view to encouraging women’s participation in the labour force.

Policymakers in Turkey recognise that the unequal sharing of childcare responsibilities within the family is one of the main reasons for women’s lower labour-market participation. Meanwhile, accessible, affordable and quality childcare options provided by the private and public sectors, particularly municipalities, remain insufficient to meet demand.

To address this issue, the EBRD, ILO and UMT have agreed to strengthen the capacity of Turkish municipalities to provide enhanced childcare services, enabling more women to seek job opportunities and stay in the workforce.

The partners will work together to improve the municipal regulatory environment in childcare matters, to advocate change among policymakers and to support the implementation of these new approaches in selected municipalities, paving the way for broader policy reform.

EBRD Managing Director for Turkey Arvid Tuerkner, Director of ILO’s Turkey office Numan Özcan and President of UMT and Mayor of Gaziantep Fatma Şahin formalised the cooperation in a memorandum of understanding signed by video conference today.

Arvid Tuerkner said on behalf of the EBRD: “The high burden of unpaid care has already been limiting women’s ability to participate in the economy. During the Covid-19 pandemic, gender equality has worsened for working women. Now, more than ever, is the time to create a more enabling environment for women to find employment, stay in jobs and advance their careers. To achieve this, childcare solutions are critical. The EBRD will provide technical support, including a review of relevant municipal law, coordinate and manage regular consultations of the policy working group and support the implementation of its recommendations.”

Numan Özcan of the ILO commented: “One of the main reasons for women’s low participation in the labour force is responsibility for care, especially childcare roles, which fall on the shoulders of women. Therefore, the provision of accessible and affordable early childhood care and education services is key to increasing women’s employment. The collaboration is the result of a joint study by the ILO and the EBRD, with the contribution of the Union of Municipalities of Turkey. It sets out the way forward for our organisations to scale up accessible, quality and affordable municipal early childhood care and education services in Turkey. We hope that, in this way, we can help women return to work and increase their participation in the labour market.”

Mayor Şahin added: “In every crisis, disadvantaged groups are the ones most affected. Many women were forced to leave the workforce during the Covid-19 pandemic because childcare was not available. Today’s agreement will empower municipalities to enhance the available childcare, which goes beyond just kindergartens. We hope the model that we will create will be successful and many cities around the world would follow suit.”

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