“Empty your vacuum bag often” urges Mrs. Energy (“Energy Hanım”) in this advertisement.
An energy conservation campaign recently launched by the Turkish Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and the Ministry of Family and Social Policies has already aroused ire among female commentators in the country. The plump poster-wife for the campaign always appears in domestic settings, urging her fellow housewives to conserve energy by turning off the oven or unplugging the iron before they are done with it.
Admirable cause, but an “annoying” approach
“In this way, they aim to save the Turkish economy $4 billion,” groaned Nilgün Tekfidan Gümüş, a columnist in the Turkish daily Hürriyet newspaper (in Turkish), one of the papers which featured a full-page advertisement from the Mrs. Energy campaign.
“This is a good effort to begin a campaign that calls on the public to conserve more energy. However, it is annoying that it is done in a sexually discriminatory manner,” she wrote in the Jan. 14 column.
Mrs. Energy has appeared newspaper advertisements and television commercials, and her campaign has been endorsed by the Turkish prime minister’s wife, Emine Erdoğan.
How to achieve real energy savings
The incremental savings that a housewife can achieve by turning off her devices a few minutes early pale in comparison to larger inefficiencies, such as poorly insulated houses, losses in the national power grid, and vehicles idling in traffic for hours on the congested streets of Turkey’s larger cities.
Rather than “Mrs. Energy”, Gümüş says, the energy ministry should have called the campaign “Energy Family” and showed how children and fathers can also contribute to the effort to conserve energy.
“If gender roles weren’t being imposed, the energy savings could be even greater,” she argued.
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