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Interview with Dr. Gulden Turktan, the first President of the Women 20 group

During the 2015 G20 Presidency of Turkey, in April 2015, the Women 20 (W20) group was created to increase women’s participation in the business world. The W20 will operate similarly to the Business 20 (B20) group and will act as an engagement group with a Secretariat responsible for preparing a final declaration for the G20 Leaders’ summit in November 2015. Empower Women in Istanbul interviewed Dr. Gülden Türktan, the first President of W20. She is one of the founders and President of the Women Entrepreneurs’ Association in Turkey (KAGIDER), and is currently a member of its Executive Board. Dr. Türktan was one of the masterminds behind FEM—a successful equal opportunity workplace programme launched by KAGIDER with a keynote speech of Robert Zoellick, former President of The World Bank. She is also an entrepreneur, and for 20 years, she worked as an executive and board member of the local operation of one of the world’s leading engineering groups, ABB. During her W20 Presidency, Dr. Türktan is expected to shed light on women rights and participation in the economy, and foster gender-responsive economic growth.

What is W20 and how did it develop?

At the first G20 Sherpa meeting with country representatives in Istanbul in December 2014, H.E. Deputy Prime Minister Ali Babacan of Turkey proposed the establishment of W20. After consultations with other G20 members, the Presidency was able to reach consensus to officially establish the W20 as a stand-alone engagement group in April 2015.

During my term as the KAGIDER President, we followed the G20’s outlook on women in the economy. We lobbied for the formation of W20 with the members of the Turkish Parliament and the Ministers in Ankara. During our trip to London to speak at the House of the Lords in Westminster at the occasion of the Women Entrepreneurs’ day in November 2014, we brought the topic of W20 to the international level.

The challenging part of establishing the W20 was coordinating and actively engaging civil society representatives, academics and businesswomen from each one of the G20 countries. This mission was made possible by the establishment of the W20 in April 2015 under the Turkish Presidency.

The mandate of W20 is to advance and realize recent G20 commitments on:

  • Achieving women’s full economic and social participation (Los Cabos Leaders’ Declaration, 2012);
  • Enhancing women’s financial inclusion and education (St Petersburg Leaders’ Declaration, 2013); and
  • Reducing the participation gap between women and men in our countries by 25 per cent by 2025, taking into account national circumstances (Brisbane Leaders’ Declaration, 2014).

What is so important and new about gender inclusiveness?

Gender inclusiveness and gender equality are vital for a strong, sustainable and balanced growth. The main objective of the W20 is to promote global economic growth through gender-inclusive approaches. Ensuring progress on the G20 commitments of “women’s full economic and social participation” is the primary goal in this respect.

The W20 embraces the commitment of reducing the gap in participation rates between men and women by 25 percent in the G20 economies by 2025, as stated by the 2014 Brisbane Leaders Declaration adopted during the Australian Presidency in 2014. W20’s main task is to formulate a road map to reach this goal. An action plan will be proposed and put forward with concrete policies for adoption of the G20 members.

From the principle of “what gets measured gets done”, we now have a quantifiable target from the Australian Presidency that will pave the way to a strict and robust action plan. Members that attain the target are expected to go a step further and adopt policies to measure their macroeconomic performance. It is very important for the W20 to develop a clear plan that can outline how it will address gender equality and women’s empowerment, and as a result bring about economic growth that works for all.

Who sits in the Board of the W20 Executive Committee?

The Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkey (KAGİDER) has been placed at the helm of the W20 Steering Committee. In cooperation with the Women and Democracy Association (KADEM) and the Turkish Businesswomen Association (TIKAD), KAGİDER has assumed the role of the Presidency and the Secretariat of the engagement group.

What is next?

6 September 2015: The W20 Official Launch Event will be held in Ankara to introduce W20 to the world.

7-8 October 2015: the W20 Summit will be held in Istanbul with representatives of the G20 countries and experts to discuss pertinent issues to the agenda.

15-16 November 2015: the Antalya Leaders Declaration, with proposed gender-responsive policies, will be announced during the G20 Leaders’ Summit in Antalya. At this Summit, the Government of China will take over the G20 Presidency for 2016 and continue these efforts.

What are your objectives?

Research and work so far has identified three main benefits of including women in the economy:

I) Strengthened global economic recovery and potential

II) Enhanced economic and social resilience

III)  Reinforced sustainability

Under these three main benefits we have identified 11 actions to be addressed by the W20 group:

1) Address women’s economic empowerment through strengthening linkages between education, employment and entrepreneurship

2) Eliminate workplace discrimination, enforce rights and promote equal opportunities

3) Ensure women’s access to finance and productive assets

4) Support women-owned enterprises and innovation

5) Increase the number of women in both public sector and private sector leadership positions

6) Strengthen women’s economic, social and political networks

7) Develop mechanisms to support work-life balance and infrastructural social care services

8) Deliver adequate social protection

9) Improve working conditions

10) Promote women’s leadership in creating sustainable consumption patterns and green growth

11) Engender agricultural and food security policy with special attention to rural women

The W20 is expected to develop recommendation for macroeconomic and public policies in these areas, and also support G20 economies to deal with issues of unemployment and sustainable growth. The intention is to produce specific, economically sound and evidence-based recommendations.

The basic principles of W20 work include enforceability among member economies, inclusivity, and comprehensiveness on the proposals and recommendations to promote growth. Everybody is welcome to raise other issues or topics to be addressed. However, any W20 policy and work recommendations have to cover these top priorities, have an impact towards the advancement of the goals of the G20 economies, and benefit as many women in the G20 economies as possible.

We value dialogue. Everybody can write to us about their inspirations, contributions and suggestions for the way forward on our website. Our priority paper is available on Empower Women.

How can UN Women’s Empower Women contribute to your work?

UN Women is a crucial organization in enhancing the status of women by covering and identifying many areas for improvement for women within all aspects all around the world. It is a jewel organization for the women of the world. A wide spectrum of issues exists for women and these are addressed by UN Women.

W20 is trying to remain in the radar of the private sector and stay influent in the governmental decision-making arena to enhance the status of women’s working life while combating economic slowdowns and attaining growth for all G20 economies.

Empower Women is a platform that can support the core business of the W20 as a knowledge management and capacity building arm of UN Women. We need to empower more women all around the world to bring out the best out into focus and bring them further into action. We can clearly see that when women have the opportunity, they produce great results. Sharing these results on Empower Women can enhance the likelihood of more positive results to be produced by other women. Especially young women have great potential to put forward great results and get inspired from all kinds of good examples. Role model women encourage other women. Setting out clear-cut accomplishments will definitely set the road for more and be very inspiring for everyone. After all, what we need to do is to inspire other people and be inspired by other people, exactly what one’s can do and find on Empower Women.

Interview and text by Meral Guzel, Empower Women Regional Coordinator for Europe and Central Asia.  

Photo: Gülden Türktan / W20

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