This article examines debates over Turkish women’s emancipation and women’s independent organizing in Turkey during the 1930s. It traces the troubled history of Turkey’s most prominent independent women’s organization, the Turkish Women’s Union (Türk Kadın Birliği), focusing especially on the Twelfth Congress of the International Alliance of Women (IAW) held in Istanbul in 1935. Despite the renown of the Women’s Union, it was forced to disband shortly after the Istanbul Congress. Drawing upon popular press accounts, official records of the Istanbul Congress, and correspondence between the Women’s Union and IAW members, this analysis underscores how deeply contested the question of women’s emancipation was, not only within urban elite society, but also among those in municipal and state office. It also provides insights into how actively Turkish feminists engaged questions of peace, disarmament, and Turkey’s role in geopolitics, challenging the view that women were best suited to contribute to social and family policies rather than foreign policy.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.