This year, AFD’s conference in Turkey, held annually on the occasion of International Women’s Day, had “women in industry and technology” as its theme. It was held on March 4 and was attended by 150 participants from all walks of life (companies, non-profit organizations, government bodies, and financial institutions).
“France is determined to support reflection on these issues and to continue the work undertaken on them. Now our task is to do even more, in line with the United Nations Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals, especially goal number 5 on gender equality and empowerment of women and girls,” said Olivier Gauvin, Consul General of France in Istanbul, by way of introduction to the conference.
Burcu Unuvar, Chief Economist of the Turkish bank TSKB, gave a presentation on the impact of Covid-19 on gender equality. In Turkey, the percentage of women in the labor market fell by 6 percentage points in 2020. This decline wiped out recent progress and brought the rate back to the 2012 level.
Gender equality, an asset for industry
One of the key events of this year’s conference was the panel discussion on “Promoting Gender Equality in Industry and Technology.” It was moderated by the Executive Director of TEPAV, with representatives from Oyak-Renault, the Limak Group, Hayat Kimya and the association Women in Technology (Wtech). At the conference, wide-ranging exchanges covered challenges and best practices with regard to promoting careers for women and to encouraging gender diversity in the industrial and technological sectors.
For example, Limak’s “Engineer Girls of Turkey” training and mentoring program for young female students has helped raised awareness about engineering careers among more than 2,000 girls. In addition, the Women@Renault action plan, launched in early 2010 by Oyak-Renault in Turkey to raise the proportion of women in the company, has increased their presence to 52% of the workforce. Experience shows that gender equality and gender diversity at all levels of the company help increase performance and competitiveness for these sectors in Turkey.
AFD provides its support
The conference also highlighted the key role played by financial institutions, such as development banks, in bringing more women into stereotypically male sectors, such as industry and technology. The importance of peer-to-peer exchanges within the country on best practices was also stressed, notably by Serge Snrech, Director of AFD in Turkey.
AFD’s Turkey office provided support for a study with TSKB in 2020 that compared the gender situation in the 81 Turkish provinces. It also supports a business-to-business forum hosted by the Turkish branch of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development, which currently has over 1,200 members.