Women officials of the Turkish Diyanet: Gendered transformations and predicaments of empowerment?


Asian Journal of Women's Studies, vol.27, no.2, pp.232-257, 2021 (SSCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 27 Issue: 2
  • Publication Date: 2021
  • Doi Number: 10.1080/12259276.2021.1932115
  • Journal Name: Asian Journal of Women's Studies
  • Journal Indexes: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Index Islamicus, MLA - Modern Language Association Database
  • Page Numbers: pp.232-257
  • Keywords: Religious authority, the diyanet, women's recruitment, gender bias, male-domination, empowerment, SECULAR STATE, PREACHERS, POLITICS
  • Middle East Technical University Affiliated: Yes


© 2021 Asian Center for Women's Studies, Ewha Womans University.The Presidency of Religious Affairs (the Diyanet) is a unique bureaucratic structure authorized to address the religious service needs of citizens in Turkey’s secular system. For a long time, it was characterized by under-representation of women in its ranks. The longstanding quest of educated religious women for recognition of their expertise and integration into this institution coincided with a policy reorientation in the early 2000s, to expand the Diyanet’s appeal for women through its enlightenment and educational functions. Under the Justice and Development Party (AKP) governments, the issue of gender disparity has been addressed through a new strategy of increasingly recruiting women graduates from Theology faculties. However, despite a ‘feminization’ process undertaken via the pro-women reforms of its organizational structure, the Diyanet’s institutional and political-ideological limitations are intertwined with prevailing gender norms and patriarchal conventions. This article inquires into the gendered dynamics and predicaments that have constrained the status and roles of its women officials and impacted their empowerment prospects. Nevertheless, as women have started to exercise religious authority with men in the Diyanet’s enduring male-dominated structure, the recognition for their expertise, professional commitment, and the potential impact of their work have reinforced the social significance of women’s roles.