Addressing a meeting in Istanbul on women and justice, Mr Erdogan said men and women are created differently, that women cannot be expected to undertake the same work as men, and that mothers enjoy a high position that only they can reach.
“You cannot put women and men on an equal footing. It is against nature. They were created differently. Their nature is different. Their constitution is different,” Mr Erdogan said.
“Motherhood is the highest position. You cannot explain this to feminists. They don’t accept motherhood. They have no such concern,” he said.
Lawyer and women’s rights activist Hulya Gulbahar said Mr Erdogan’s comments were in violation of Turkey’s constitution, Turkish laws and international conventions on gender equality and did not help efforts to stem high incidences of violence against women in Turkey.
Ms Gulbahar said: “Such comments by state officials which disregard equality between men and women play an important role in the rise of violence against women.
Mr Erdogan, a devout Muslim, often courts controversy with divisive public comments.