Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu speaks during a press briefing in Ankara on Jan. 8. AFP Photo

Hurriyet Daily News

The government has unveiled a new incentive program to encourage working women to have more children, in a bid to avoid the decline of the Turkish population.

Under the new plan, the government is pledging 300 Turkish Liras for a couple’s first child, 400 liras for the second, and 600 liras for the third, while easing conditions for new mothers to return to their jobs after maternity leave. “Mothers [working in public office] will be able to continue to be promoted in their positions even in their unpaid leave after birth. We will also make arrangements for part-time work for mothers. After the end of maternity leave, mothers with one child will have the right to work part-time for two months, mothers with two children for four months, and mothers with three or more children for six months. They will receive full wages while working part-time,” Prime Minister Ahmet Davuto?lu said at a press conference on Jan. 8.

The government’s new incentive program is part of President Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s long-term policy of encouraging “at least three children per family.”

“The protection of our family life under any circumstance is of great importance for the protection of future generations, fundamental norms, our values and moral standards,” Davuto?lu said, adding that the government’s program aimed to bring about new measures to help working mothers.

Motherhood and continuing a professional career are not categorically opposite things, he also said.

“Motherhood is the practice of the most sacred mission. But at the same time, our women’s fulfillment of their responsibility in social life and participating in social life upon their will is also a human right. We are trying to keep this balance with this package,” he said.

Keeping Turkey’s population young as the source of economic productivity and power is also a strategic target, the prime minister said, underlining that the government wanted to avoid problems associated with an aging population.

Mothers who want to continue to take care of their children until they start school will have the right to work up to 30 hours a week so that they do not become detached from their professional life, Davuto?lu said. The government is also expanding parental leave to five days so that fathers can support their wives after the birth.

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