Sabra Bano, Head of the Gender Election Watch Tunisia 2014 mission announces the Preliminary Report of her mission that was comprised of 110 all-female international and domestic observers.
To download the Preliminary Report, please click here.
Gender Parity – Still a Long Way to Achieve Inclusive Governance in Tunisia
This mission was undertaken jointly between the Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH), the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD), the Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development (AFTURD) and Gender Concerns International (GCI).
Tunisia’s first democratic legislative elections in its history present an opportunity for the country to enhance its institutional structure and promote inclusive governance.
Bano explained that Gender Election Watch 2014 comprised of 10 international and 110 national female election observers deployed across 22 governorates. This mission highlights women’s current and potential participation in political process, with a particular focus on those in rural areas. Monitoring of electoral processes from a gender perspective underscores societal and political challenges that must be overcome to ensure inclusive governance in the future of Tunisia.
Women comprised 47% of the total number of candidates in the parliamentary elections, with only 12% of the head of lists represented by women. Levels of women as the head of list were significantly lower in rural areas. Tunisia is a party to several international treaties ensuring the equality of women in all aspects of life. The Constitution of 2014 creates a legislative framework in which all forms of discrimination are prohibited, whilst committing the state to protect women’s current rights and strengthen these further.
Electoral regulation requires mixed lists, alternating between male and female candidates. No quotas are currently reserved for women to gain a seat in parliament. Women currently represent three out of nine members of ISIE, with women comprising marginally less than 50% of staff in its departments.
Head of Mission Bano emphasises that whilst the female presence is large, further efforts must be made for equal representation as presidents of polling centres and stations. Women comprised 50.5% of registered voters. Tunisian women in rural areas faced the greatest challenges on election day, due to underlying factors such as levels of illiteracy and economic hardship.
The presence of women in electoral campaigning was modest. Early reporting indicates that media coverage of the female candidature remained significantly weak, particularly in public audio-visual media; less than 10% of coverage in public media was dedicated to women.
The existence of separate queues for men and women occurred in several areas; organically, as the result of intimidation and imposed by electoral staff. Bano highlighted that the relatively small presence of women in parliament necessitates their inclusion as ministers in order to ensure that the future government is able to formulate gender-sensitive policy.
The report brings attention to a number of areas in which women and gender-related issue must receive greater attention. Recommendations include a greater focus of women in rural areas; equality of gender representation in governmental institutions; greater gender-balance in media coverage; horizontal parity of men and women in electoral lists; the new government must ensure that women play an equal role in future political processes at all levels.
The realisation of these recommendations will allow Tunisia to move further toward gender parity and inclusive governance.
For the French and Arabic version of this press statement please click here