Insight Turkey
Insight Turkey
Challenging ideas
On Turkish politics and International affairs

Author

Hatice Karahan

İstanbul Medipol University, Turkey; Harvard University, U.S.
Hatice Karahan
Political Climate and the Headscarf Issue in Turkey: A Perspective from the Labor Market
March 29, 2022
This article focuses on the relationship between the socioeconomic rights of headscarved women and the political attitude of governments towards the headscarf in Turkey. Taking the 2013 removal of bans against the headscarf in the public sphere as the reference point, we attempt to provide a before-and-after comparison of the status of headscarved professionals in the Turkish labor market, based on factors in the political climate. While focusing mainly on the changing outlook in the public sector, we also examine the consequences of this liberalizing move on the private sector and explore the likely futures of the headscarf issue from a labor market perspective. Findings from the qualitative research reveal the strong influence political attitude has on the headscarf issue, as evident in the employment of headscarved women in white-collar occupations. We discovered that the political climate is still expected to be the key dynamic in Turkey that shapes the future for professionals wearing the headscarf, primarily through the channel of the state job market. This study contributes to the vast literature on women’s social and economic rights by addressing a decades-long, divisive issue that concerns a substantial segment of Turkish society.

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