The AKP’s policy on women and family is a classic example of the deal between the global market mechanism and the conservative political agenda. This arrangement identifies women as the primary means of reproduction in the family, the economy and the market. In this “great deal” women are considered “vital” for the future of the household and the nation and therefore highly appreciated. Women are perceived as consumers, loyal mothers and servants of the family and the state. However, these roles attributed to women also grant men and the state “the duty to protect and control” the women.
In 2008, on International Women’s Day, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan appealed to Turkish women: “The most crucial element of the economy is the human being. They (referring to imagined enemies) want to destroy the Turkish nation. Give birth to three children to keep our nation young” (Hurriyet, 7 March, 2008). This speech sounds like a joke at first. Obviously, it was not. Erdogan’s appeal became the main reference point for the AKP’s policy towards women, mainly focusing on their reproductive role.
In May 2012, Erdogan declared, “I think abortion is murder” and tried to promote new regulations concerning reproductive health. According to him, birth control was a conspiracy of the enemies of the Turkish nation. The secular women’s movement formed a strong opposition against his discourse and regulations. There were many protests in major Turkish cities. The slogan was clear: “My body, my decision”.