Turkish Treasury and Finance Minister Nureddin Nebati on Tuesday said in a discriminatory remark that women were more fragile than men and should not be working in jobs involving operating machinery or manual labor, Turkish media reported.
In an event organized on the occasion of International Women’s Day, Nebati gave speech in which he said God created the two sexes differently. “Let me tell you clearly that God created us as men and you as women. Heavy work like construction is not for women because they are delicate, merciful, gentle-spirited. Women should work in managerial jobs instead of menial jobs,” he said.
Nebati emphasized that women had “soft” characters and that “extremist” feminist ideologies could not change that.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and prominent conservative figures in the government and media have repeatedly said they see gender equality as contradictory to the nature of men and women.
Erdoğan criticized feminists for “not understanding motherhood,” in a 2014 speech, claiming that Islam accords women high value due to their ability to bear and raise children.
Despite Nebati’s wish for women to work in managerial jobs, many women experience discrimination in the Turkish labor market. Especially during the COVID-19 pandemic the number of women working without social security has risen dramatically.
Unions have said government policies addressing discrimination and low pay were not enough and that women were often exploited by their employers.
According to economists, women in Turkey are often only able to perform unpaid labor at home rather than hold outside jobs and as a result suffer the most from poverty.
Economist Dr. Ayşe Aylin Bayar said during the pandemic poverty had increased 9.1 percent and that the government urgently needed to develop policies to prevent increasing poverty among women.