Dr. Gülden Türktan: What are the challenges at the time being and what are the solutions – and what is the role of woman in this process

Dr. Gülden Türktan: What are the challenges at the time being and what are the solutions – and what is the role of woman in this process


It is noticeably clear that women are affected most

Gülden Türktan is a management consultant specialized in leadership and finance based in Istanbul and the president of the Turkish chapter, IWF Turkey, of the International Women’s Forum, Global IWF. She is also the founding chairwoman of the W20 which was held for the first time in 2015 in the G20 during Turkish presidency of the G20. The W20 – Women 20, is the outreach group of G20 as a platform to enhance the women’s status and participation in the respective economies of the G20 countries. With Dieter Brockmeyer, cofounder and director innovation of the Diplomatic World Institute she talks about the role of women in today’s society and business.


The appointment as founding chair of W20 was a huge opportunity for you. How did that come along?

I was the president of the board of KAGIDER, the women entrepreneur association for Turkey and we were reading all the academic and quality material published regarding enhancing women’s status in the economy. The world feminism had been spelled out first time in 1837 in Europe. But, since then the gender issue has not been solved. Further, it has been going forward quite poorly. I had always thought that there must also be some other ways to convince people about gender equality. It is not only a human right, but women have a value proposition in the managerial decision making. The companies to be better corporate citizens need to make highly effective decisions for a prospering their enterprise in the corporate world. This value proposition needs to be brought forward and discussed to convince to enhance women’s participation in the economy and in the decision making. It is absolutely needed to explain further rather than just saying the gender equality is a human right. Unfortunately, gender issue has not been solved since many years and calculations based on trend show with these rates of progress, it may take 257 years more to close the economic gender gap. It is absolutely a human right, unfortunately this premise has been sufficient as a message to pave the way for equality.

Just in time for our search came the G20 Communique of Brisbane Australia that was the term president for the G20 in 2014. First time ever a positive target has been established and signed for closing the gender gap in the respective economies by all the G20 countries signature. Following on this we stated lobbying for establishing a women outreach group in the G20. Naïve enough we did not know about other efforts existing at that time and we did not know that W20 Chair would come from civil society, but we thought that an ambassador would be appointed as this was 20 government’s decision. It turned out that the efforts were well placed and further to our positive surprise, myself and my NGO were appointed in 2015 to lead the first W20 time convening W20 meeting and signed the declaration. And I can assure you that we did a great job.


W20 is always moving for country to country always with a local chairwoman. It seems to be a success. You are still involved?

Presidency of the G20 is touring the world. Starting from the first establishment of the W20 in 2015, the presidency has gone to China, Germany, Argentina, and Japan. This year the presidency resides with Saudi Arabia. I have been to all the meetings and toured around and I am immensely proud to see that the W20 is progressing with great success. Every country has their respective special soup. Whether it is the Turkish lentil soup or the Chinese wonton soup, or the German potato soup or the Argentinian locro soup, or the Japanese miso soup, all the W20 Communiques (*) had that effect in the country and all-around world. Taking into consideration the prevailing culture, the accomplishment has been great, and it has created the change in the cultures that the presidencies it had passed through. Now, Saudi Arabia is cooking a delicious grain soup for all the G20 countries. G20 counties represent %85 of the world economy and other countries are also following the route for progress.

Further, I had been invited to speak to many non-G20 countries to explain what is happening in the G20 with respect to gender. And I have witnessed that non-G20 countries are also affected very positively from this wind.


Today the world seems to become much more conservative. On the other hand, woman equality has never been pushed more. Has it become easier or more complicated to accomplish the task?

The value proposition of women started with the consumption decisions. Women make most of the consumption decisions. Women form companies that are relatively smaller. Women make decisions more towards environmental friendliness and human resource caring. Women want precise accounting results. When women earn money, they send to save, which is a great opportunity for initiating growth in the respective countries. Women tend to be relatively more careful with their spending and wish to invest in the education and health of their families. You can imagine that if we only have more care for environment, education, and people the world would become a better place for all of us.


The Corona pandemic is a huge challenge for everybody. What is the impact on our societies and our industries?

It is noticeably clear that women are affected most. Women are losing their jobs. They are working and doing the housework at the same time which they earlier could have been purchased or they are spending more time in childcare, as most of the schools are closed.

Women and men tend to cluster in different occupations. Women tend to work more in the service sector, and they have been hit most. Women has a bigger crowd in the grey economy, and they have been hit most as well.

Women represent 39 percent in global employment. With Covid 19 women represent 54 percent of job losses.


What are the challenges at the time being and what are the solutions – and what is the role of woman in this process?

There are many simultaneous things happening lately. The first one is that the economy is not going well anywhere in the world and the decision makers need to come up with different or creative ways of doing business to promote growth in their respective economies. Second one is that the G20 countries are creating the necessary voice in their respective countries during their presidencies. Thirdly, the academy and the think tanks are now convinced about the value add that gender inclusion shall bring about to economy. Every day a new research or a publication comes out about the value-add women bring to the economy, when included. Fourthly, the pandemic has brough about a new way of doing business. There are other things happening as well, but lastly I will cite one more recent topic. We are all much more connected to each other globally. And we understand more what is right and what can presumably guess is wrong. We are all more transparent and more connected now.

Further, the challenge of the whole world is facing is now the economic slowdown after the pandemic should not continue and the crises need to come to an end. In the economic literature there is a theory that says that women’s participation in the economy increase more at the tough times. So, I hope after this downturn, women’s economic participation will start to climb. Afterall, for growth to happen, we need a different voice everywhere.

Women’s enterprises tend to be smaller when compared to the enterprises established by men. And with the pandemic smaller enterprises are hit most because they mostly lack capital accumulation. Unfortunately, smaller enterprises resemble the suspension system of a car in the economy. They absorb the shocks in the downturn and upturns. Without the smaller enterprises, when the suspension system is cracked, the larger enterprises will be hit harder later. Those countries that could see this correlation will survive better from the aftereffects of this pandemic.


(*) The W20 communiques are as follows: