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Citation Information

Type Journal Article - Women and Families: Evolution of the Status of Women as a Factor and Consequence of Changes in Family Dynamics
Title An overview of women's status and fertility in Turkey
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 1997
Page numbers 122
URL http://www.cicred.org/Eng/Publications/pdf/c-a32.pdf#page=87
The relationship between women's status and fertility has been the subject of a large number of studies and it is still prominent on the world agenda. Two decades ago it was stated in paragraph 32 of the World Population Plan of Action that one important way to moderate fertility was through the full integration of women in the development process, particularly by means of their greater participation in educational, social,
economic and political opportunities, and especially by means of the removal of obstacles to their employment in the nonagricultural sector wherever possible'(United Nations, 1975). Today, the Programme of Action
of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), held in Cairo in 1994, calls for gender equity and equality to enable women to realize their full potential. It was stated that the empowerment of women and improvement of their status are important ends in themselves and are essential for the achievement of sustainable development (United Nations, 1995). One of the numerous linkages put forward for empowering women states that ensuring women's ability to control their own fertility has a strong impact in improving their status at political, social, economic and health levels. Thus, women's role and status in the family and society greatly affects the degree of control she has over her own fertility. The possibility to decide when and whether to conceive children is a crucial element in being able to choose the kind of life a woman wants to live. Especially in societies that experience a transformation from traditional to modern, changing status of women in the society and in the family usually results in an increase in the undesirability of pregnancy. The rise in the educational level of women, their work outside the home and development of extra-familial activities lead women to prefer a limited number of children and at the same time create the possibility for women to have greater say in the number and timing of children. These are some of the factors which determine the status of women to a large extent and which in turn affect their fertility behaviour. Also in Turkey, the status of women plays a very important role in the demographic transition of the country. The rapid social and economic change that Turkish society has undergone brought about changes at the demographic level. For instance, in Turkey a fertility transition has been experienced in the last two decades. During the period between 1978 and 1993, the total fertility rate in Turkey has declined by 37 percent from 4.3 to 2.7. The onset of the decline is associated with the change in governmental policy in 1965 from a pronatalist one to one favouring a limited population growth. This was followed by the further liberalization obtained in 1983 by legalizing voluntary surgical contraception and induced abortions up to the tenth week of pregnancy. In the meantime, in addition to these liberalizations, the society as a whole went through social and economic transformations. In accordance with these transformations women's status in the society has changed as well, which in turn has affected demographic behaviour, notably fertility behaviour. On the other hand, despite the successful modernization process, the social life of the society in Turkey is mainly characterized by patriarchy which finds its reflection in the position of women. Therefore women in Turkey live in a highly heterogeneous social and cultural structure where “modern” and “traditional” exist together. In view of these considerations, the present study seeks to identify the possible impact of women's status on marital fertility behaviour in Turkey
and tries to find out whether the fertility behaviour of women in Turkey has been modified by their status. The Turkish Demographic and Health Survey (TDHS), besides its full demographic nature which focuses primarily on issues like fertility, family planning, and maternal and child health, also makes it possible to study the status of women, mainly at a descriptive level. The first point in the study that is referred to is the socioeconomic, cultural and legal milieu within which the status of women is established. Secondly, the status of women in Turkey is studied at a descriptive level and finally the study concentrates on an analysis which determines the effective factors in fertility behaviour related to women’s status.

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