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Childcare For Sustainable Development

When I was elected president to the board of KAGIDER (Women Entrepreneurs Association of Turkiye), I thought I had to figure a successful way forward for our goal which was to include more women in the workforce as employees or entrepreneurs. I had to read all the reports and surveys. I concluded from all the materials I had read that there are two main obstacles for women’s inclusion in the economy: 1) the very first one is the lack of confidence. We needed to convince women that they can do it. 2) the second obstacle was lack of institutional childcare in the respective countries. Surely, the list went on. Let’s first tackle the first two.

I was convinced from my readings that inclusion of women in the economy is a solution not only for development of any country but also for sustainable development of a country. When you went to the poor areas, you saw that women couldn’t trust her child to anybody, if she doesn’t have a cooperating mother or mother-in-law, or sister leave alone an institutional solution.

When you look around the big cities you can see great women role models, but you look deeply you also understand that they either have no children or they have a great support from mother or mother-in-law, or they have qualified professional help. We raised this issue with the government at that time and the answer was “no country has a model solution. So, aren’t you looking for too much?” We studied major countries and saw that France had a menu of childcare support based on the wishes of the families with small children and the families with different income levels.

So, we decided to bring forward a model. Together with ACEV (Mother and Child Education Foundation) and KAGIDER with the qualified support of PwC, we succeeded to develop a model. If a government subsidises working mother (or parent) with children of ages 0-36 months with a tax exemption of 300 monetary units (TL in the model at the time of modelling) per month, government receives back 458 monetary units from the working mother and further from the caregiving institution’s additional taxes to be received amounts to 154 monetary units. The model highly benefits childcare institutions and employment of the mother and caregivers. Shortly, the model showed that a giveaway of 300 monetary units from tax income will result in a receive back of 612 monetary units of taxes for the government. Further the program can result in shaping and modelling of the care sector. If we can have more women in the various echelons of the decision making in any country, then sustainable development shall follow. The model of course depends on the demographics of the respective countries.

At the time of modelling, the law requirements behind such a framework were found to be quite complicated and failed to go through. Now, however, under the same Minister of Finance – Mr. Mehmet Simsek – we recently have even a more generous model as a draft law that quotes giving out 325 Euro to the working mother per month as an incentive.

When childcare issue was raised at World Bank level, when I was on the gender advising board of the bank, we saw that Japan, Russia and US attempted to have their own childcare models. China developed an elderly care solution for their country. During to Covid 19, too many women left the work force in all of our respective countries, now childcare support framework may be a solution to invite back women to the economy for sustainable development.

I even envision and hope for a common solution model for all the G20 countries.

Dr. Gülden Türktan

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