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Purpose-Led Performance May 13, 2024

Empowering Women in Turkey

Female farmer on tractor


In 2022, McCormick conducted the baseline survey for the McCormick Women’s Empowerment Framework (M-WEF) in the oregano-growing regions of Turkey, through an independent third-party. It was clear that the women surveyed considered themselves farmers, however the division of tasks was gendered. Women undertook labor intensive and repetitive manual tasks such as land preparation and harvesting, men handled commercial tasks including the purchasing of inputs, and managed the mechanized farm equipment. In addition, training on good agricultural practices was largely held in local coffee shops and women were not in attendance due to cultural norms.
To address the gender-gap, McCormick worked with a local oregano supplier partner to design and implement a women’s empowerment program. Female farmers were provided with agricultural training and given the opportunity to train for their tractor license. However, a driver’s license was a prerequisite and many women, including Elif Ulu from the village of Çal, needed to obtain that first. The empowerment program facilitated this through collaboration with two local driving schools. “I have wanted to get a driver's license for a long time,” explained Elif, “I was very happy and immediately signed up as a volunteer.” 

Female farmer oregano

Within two months all the women enrolled in the program had passed their driving test and qualified for their tractor license. Ways of working on the family farm, which consists of several parcels of land, immediately changed for Elif.


“After getting the license we were able to do more work at the same time, because while my husband was doing a job in one of the fields, I could do a different job with the tractor in the other field,” she explained. “Now I can plow the field or carry the dried oregano that we load onto trailers after harvest to the threshing floor.” 


In the past, Elif has witnessed women struggle to continue farming activities when their husbands get sick. In some instances, women had no option but to migrate to the city when their spouses pass away, as they are unable to tend their land. “We don't know what tomorrow will bring but being able to drive a tractor gives me assurance for the future,” Elif explained. 

In addition to working on the farm, obtaining a driver’s license has empowered Elif in other ways. “I can now take my children to school in cold weather or to the hospital when they get sick. The program has increased my self-confidence in every sense.”

Additionally, scholarships were also provided to young women pursuing agronomic studies with local universities and colleges to facilitate a pathway into the industry and roles that they would not otherwise have been able to access. The aspiration is for these young women to eventually provide training and support services to female farmers, emerging as catalysts for transformative change within Turkey’s agricultural sector.


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