Information by Country

Turkey: Background

This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.
Turkey is one of the world’s fastest-growing economies, but the benefits are not shared by all. Although there is no guarantee of admission, Turkey’s candidacy for entry to the European Union has led to legal reforms, including the toughening of sentences for “honour killings”: murders of women thought to have shamed their families. Security problems in the south of the country hamper delivery of basic services.
  • Rural populations lag behind urban dwellers in almost every social and economic index, from mortality rates to school enrolment.
  • Hundreds of thousands of girls are out of school. In rural areas, a lack of schools and classrooms means that some teachers have more than 100 students per class.
  • Child labour remains widespread, as does child marriage.
  • The official number of HIV/AIDS cases is 1,800, but the actual number is believed to be considerably higher.
  • Immunization rates for childhood diseases are in need of improvement. Low demand for vaccines by parents is one reason.
  • The government’s ongoing efforts to improve prenatal care, increase educational opportunities for girls and promote breastfeeding have had profound effects on infant and under-five mortality rates. Infant mortality dropped to 33 per 1,000 by 2003. The number of women who breastfeed exclusively has doubled over the past five years.
  • A Girls’ Education Campaign has led to the enrolment of 74,500 additional girls in primary schools. Some 52,800 additional boys were also enrolled.
  • The minimum marriage age for girls was raised from 15 to 17.
  • A new civil code gives women equal rights with men, though most women still face discrimination.


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Haydi Kizlar Okula! (‘Hey Girls, Let’s Go to School!’), the Girls’ Education Campaign in Turkey led by the Ministry of National Education (MONE) and UNICEF Turkey