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Secular and Islamic feminist entrepreneurship in Turkey

Banu Özkazanç-Pan (Department of Management & Marketing, College of Management, University of Massachusetts, Boston, MA, USA)

International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship

ISSN: 1756-6266

Article publication date: 9 March 2015



This paper aims to highlight secular and Islamic feminist approaches to entrepreneurship as potential means to challenge gender inequality in the Turkish context. In Turkey, gender equality remains elusive in a nation where secular and Islamic ideologies compete and produce different solutions to ongoing economic, socio-cultural and political issues. Women’s entrepreneurship has emerged as an important solution toward gender equality and economic development.


Using two women’s organizations that exemplify secular and Islamic feminist ideologies, the author examines whether the entrepreneurship activities they promote give way to challenging patriarchal norms, values and practices widespread in Turkish society.


Through their distinct practices and engagement with entrepreneurship, both secular and Islamic feminist positions allow for praxis and represent an ethico-political commitment to dismantling neo-liberal development ideologies in the Turkish context that perpetuate gender inequality.

Social implications

Secular and Islamic feminist practices and entrepreneurship practices have different implications for achieving gender equality including changes in gender norms, economic development policies and women’s empowerment in a Muslim-majority country. In addition, it raises questions around the popular notion of “entrepreneurship as women’s empowerment”.


This paper is of value to scholars who want to understand secular and Islamic feminisms and their implications for challenging gender inequality. The Turkish context with its traditional and modern societal norms and values provides a rich case study to examine these issues through the exemplars of entrepreneurship. It is also of value to scholars who want to understand structural constraints associated with gender equality beyond individual-level challenges.



Özkazanç-Pan, B. (2015), "Secular and Islamic feminist entrepreneurship in Turkey", International Journal of Gender and Entrepreneurship, Vol. 7 No. 1, pp. 45-65.



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