ILO, EBRD and UMT Sign Protocol to Increase Women’s Employment through Promoting Early Childhood Care Services

The International Labour Organization (ILO) Office for Turkey, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and Union of Municipalities of Turkey (UMT) signed a protocol on 24 June 2021 to extend the early childhood care and education (ECCE) services provided by municipalities in order to alleviate the burden of care on women, and contribute to increasing women’s employment.

News | 24 June 2021
A protocol was signed on 24 June 2021 between ILO Office for Turkey, EBRD and UMT to extend the scope of early childhood care and education (ECCE) services provided by municipalities in order to alleviate the burden of early childhood care on women, and contribute to increasing women’s employment.

Aiming to further step up the joint work since 2019 by the ILO Office for Turkey and EBRD on promoting early childhood care services, the protocol intends, by UMT contribution, to strengthen the relevant capacities of local governments and provide municipal ECCE services to wider segments of the society.

“Accessible and Extensive Early Childhood Care Services Essential to Women’s Employment”

Speaking at the signing ceremony, Numan Özcan, Director of the ILO Office for Turkey, underlined that women’s participation in the labour force across the world was not on par with men’s both in numbers and working conditions, and stated that the pandemic further exacerbated the inequalities between women and men, forcing many women out of the labour force.

“One of the primary causes of this situation and of women’s low participation rates in the labour force is the unpaid care responsibilities on women, particularly those relating to childcare. It is therefore critical to provide accessible ECCE services to increase women’s employment.”

“This protocol is an outcome of the joint work by ILO Office for Turkey and EBRD with UMT’s contribution. The protocol aims to strengthen the capacities of local governments to provide ECCE services, and extend such services through municipal delivery.”
“Thereby, we want to enable women to return back to the labour force and contribute to increasing women’s employment.”

“Protocol to Help Women to Facilitate Their Work-Life Balance”.

Arvid Tuerkner, EBRD Turkey Managing Director”, stated that the pandemic and unpaid care responsibilities including childcare restricted women’s participation in the economy and posed challenges to women to facilitate their work-life balance.

“Women are experiencing serious distress in entering and remaining in the labour force, and the pandemic unfortunately made it worse. It is therefore very important to create an environment conducive to women finding jobs, remaining at work and pursuing careers, and generate solutions on provision of childcare services.”
“Under the protocol, we as EBRD, want to support women in participating in the economy, facilitating their work and life balance, and working in decent jobs, through supporting municipalities for more extensive ECCE services.”

“Childcare Expensive, Such Models as Neighbourhood Childcare Centres Important”

Speaking at the signing ceremony, UMT President Ms. Fatma Şahin underlined that the protocol was of great importance particularly to women and children because it aimed to support the groups hardest hit by the pandemic including women, children and disadvantaged groups.

“We are now going through a pandemic. We must prepare for the after, and inclusiveness is the key. Therefore, we should empower and support such disadvantaged groups as women and children through protective and preventive measures.”

“We want mothers to work, but it is difficult in cities. Childcare centres and childcare are costly in cities. The solution lies in providing childcare services. We want to establish neighbourhood childcare centres to increase the number of safe places and mechanisms where working mothers can entrust their children. We want to hail this model as the Turkish model, and the protocol is highly meaningful and important in that sense.”

Protocol a Continuation of Joint Work by ILO Turkey Office and EBRD

ILO Office for Turkey and EBRD started work in 2019 to develop recommendations on ECCE practices that could be undertaken through inter-institutional cooperation in Turkey, and consequently released in early June 2021 the report “Promoting Women's Employment Through Inter-Institutional Cooperation: Early Childhood Care and Education (ECCE) Practices”.

The report is an outcome of comprehensive examination of the legal framework regulating ECCE services, policies employed, roles of service providers, and good practices in Turkey and in the world, as well as soliciting the contributions and views of public agencies, workers’ and employers’ organizations, local governments, private sector and civil society. It highlights the importance of inter-institutional cooperation to promote accessible, quality and affordable ECCE services.

ILO-EBRD Report Proposes Three Models

Prepared under the “More and Better Jobs for Women Programme” implemented by the ILO Office for Turkey with funding from Sweden, the report proposes three early childhood care and education practices : Organized Industry Zone (OIZ) Practice in cooperation with employers, Municipal Practice led by municipalities, and Labour Union Practice by unions organized at workplace.

UMT to Support the İmplementation of Own Proposal in the Report

UMT, which has contributed to the development of Municipal Practice model as recommended in the Report, will engage more actively in the process and contribute to local implementation of this practice under the protocol.
Working groups will be formed under the protocol to take initial steps to piloting the Municipal Practice model as recommended by the report.

The cooperation between the ILO Office for Turkey, EBRD and UMT will also set an example of inter-institutional cooperation as emphasized by the report for the provision of ECCE services.