Labour MP Caroline Flint opened the reception by providing a background into the current political landscape in Turkey. She referenced that in 2015 Turkish general elections, a record number of women were elected to the Turkish Parliament. Some 81 women secured a seat with 550 members of Turkish Parliament for the first time. "I hope it could reach the half in 15 years time. This surge in women's political representation is in line with the theme for this year's International Women's Day of gender parity; the hopes for 50/50 representation by 2030" " she said.
Flint drew attention to the situation of women in Turkey, where in 2010 fourteen times more women were murdered than in 2003. Flint lamented that no more recent figure was available for her to discuss, as these figures are no longer published.
In regards to employment, Ms Flint noted that in the last ten years, women's employment in Turkey has dropped from 35 percent to 25 percent. "However, more people, especially women, are speaking up. Flint highlighted solidarity in Turkey, in which women are helping other women to become businesswomen. In the most senior ranks of Turkish business, women hold a quarter of board seats in the biggest companies" Flint added.
Baroness Jan Royall told about her recent visit to Diyarbakir in South-east of Turkey. She extended her support to the women of the Turkish and Kurdish communities, especially those living in the curfew areas in South-east Turkey added in such areas, democracy, the rule of law, and the fundamental freedoms to which every human being is entitled, are not being fully respected.
Baroness Royall called for the need of the state to respect fundamental human rights and UN obligations. Whilst the UK is a friend of Turkey and wants Turkey to thrive, Baroness Royall stressed that as a friend of Turkey, we have a responsibility to be a critical friend. Everyone must work together, for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Turkey.
“...as a friend of Turkey, we have a responsibility to be a critical friend. Everyone must work together, for a peaceful solution to the crisis in Turkey" she added.
Tom Brake MP was the last speaker of the reception. He stressed that domestic violence is a prominent problem in Turkey as well as south west in London “recognition does not mean resolve, and there is still a great amount to be done. Our role in the UK is to ensure that Turkey is held accountable for human rights abuses” Mr Brake told.
He also praised Turkey for its role in dealing with the refugee crisis and also praised the Kurds for their role in fighting against Islamic State in the Middle East, one of the greatest contemporary threats to women's rights.