Women in Turkey are making a statement… with fake mustaches. No, this is not a new fashion statement. Fake mustaches will not be coming to a catwalk near you. Instead, it is the tongue-in-cheek antics of the Kader organization protesting the lack of women in politics in Turkey where only 2.2% of deputies are women and not even 1% are mayors.

To convey their message, the activists do not hesitate to burst onto political properties, brandishing moustaches and chanting the slogan ‘Do you have to be a man to get in Parliament?’In adopting this symbol of Turkish virility, they hope to attract the attention of the ruling bodies of Turkish political parties and awaken the consciences of their compatriots.

According to Hülya Ugur Tanriover, professor at the University of Galatasaray, specialist in the representation of women in the Turkish media, the gap between the sexes remains rigid. If nothing juridicial prevents the participation of women in politics, reality is there to dissuade them. The traditional vision of a woman supposes that ‘even if she works in the big cities, she is still considered first and foremost a wife and a mother.’
In Turkey, Kader’s ‘women in moustaches’ campaign seems to have achieved its goal and attracted attention to the issue of parity in Turkish institutions. The newspapers have brought the association’s main personalities into the media spotlight, and the political parties have not been able to ignore the appeal. The majority of coalitions have decided to react, even if the measures taken are not currently achieving the ‘33% of women on the list of representatives and the ease of candidature for women’ that Kader demands.

I love it. It’s great. It’s effective. It’s irreverent. It gets people’s attention. Too bad there is still resistance among men.

And as for their masculine counterparts, ‘they have said ‘yes’ to human rights, women’s rights, education, health, economy and even gender equality in the civil rights code and the penal code. But they hope that politics stays theirs,’ analyses Seyhan Eksioglu. ‘It’s the final rampart that affirms their force and their vision of the hierarchy that remains men’s.’

However, it is undeniable that better representation of women in political bodies would have something of an impact. ‘That 52% of the Turkish population would finally be politically represented. It would mean addressing the issues directly concerning them,’ states Kader’s president. Major problems such as domestic violence, girls’ education and honour crimes would finally be properly dealt with, as well as more subtle issues such as the number of nurseries, equality of salary, changing the image of women etc.

Hmm… I must say that this method is brilliant. I reminds me of the Gorrila Grrls and their Gorrila masks. I wonder what Canadian feminists could do as an equivalent? Any suggestions?