Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday that women who choose careers over motherhood are "deficient" and she "is a half (a person) no matter how successful she is."
"A woman who abstains from maternity by saying 'I am working' means that she is actually denying her femininity," Erdogan said in a widely reported speech in Istanbul translated by the Hurriyet Daily News newspaper.
"Women who refuse maternity and give up housekeeping face the threats of losing their freedom," he went on to say.
Prominent left-wing author Elif Shafak called Erdogan's comments "totally unacceptable, wrong and alarming," and said they represent a dangerous pattern.
"Turkey's AKP government has, over the years, increased their statements against women," she told NBC News via email. "They are openly questioning secularism. If secularism is destroyed and a religious order is introduced, there is no doubt in my mind that we women have much more to lose than men."
Erdogan views current growth in the Kurdish population as a threat to native Turkish people.
"He sees if current trends continue within a few decades Kurds could become the majority in Turkey," said Fadi Hakura, a Turkey expert and associate fellow at Chatham House think tank.