Author Archives: Erinn Benedict

Reforms are Needed to Help Turkish Women Gain a Greater Foothold in Politics and the Workforce

A woman runs several shops and bakeries in Kızılcahamam, Central Anatolia, Turkey. Despite important strides toward gender equality, just 32 percent of working-age Turkish women participate in the labor force.

In the past several decades, Turkish women have made important strides toward gender equality. Near-equal numbers of girls and boys now receive primary education, virtually closing the education gap. Women hold approximately half of all academic positions and comprise a third of engineers and lawyers. These gains are cause for celebration, but they only tell half the story of the quest for gender equality in Turkey. Women still hold little political power, and they struggle to maintain a presence in the labor market. With only 32 percent of working-age women employed full- or part-time, Turkey ranks last in women’s workforce participation among all 35 member countries of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Moreover, women account for just 15 percent of Turkish parliamentarians and hold only one cabinet-level position.

Pinpointing the cause of women’s absence from Turkey’s economic and political arenas is no simple task. The country has legislation in place to promote women’s equality and ease the hurdles that women face when entering the labor force. However, a combination of gaps in legal implementation and lingering traditional perceptions of women belonging in a domestic role hold women back from obtaining higher rates of employment.

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Promoting Government Transparency and Empowering Citizens through Open Data

Young participants at the Code for Good Hackathon for Girls Who Code in New York (via Flickr)

As our lives become increasingly digitized, governments must respond to calls to make information available for public consumption on the Internet. Proponents of open data advocate for the release of information collected by governments in formats accessible to all citizens. But what is open data, and how can it help people make sense of their world?

Governments routinely collect facts affecting constituents and regarding a variety of topics including health, the environment, and the economy. According to Open Knowledge International, a global non-profit committed to empowering civil society to harness the power of open data for social impact, data is considered “open” when it is accessible, reusable, and available to all. It is not enough for governments to partially release data or limit its distribution. Instead, for a government to be truly open, datasets must be published in full, in machine-readable formats, and on a central, accessible online platform. Governments should also publicize the release of data, rather than publish information silently., a website administered by the U.S. government, is an example of a government making data publically available online. The website’s information is organized into 14 categories including climate, health, education and public safety.

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