25 November 2014
Presidential Election Observation
Gender Election Watch Tunisia 2014
Gender Concerns International supports women worldwide in claiming their role as “agents of change”. To further this aim, Gender Concerns and partner organisations, The Tunisian League of Human Rights (LTDH), The Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (ATFD), and The Association of Tunisian Women for Research and Development (AFTURD), trained and deployed teams consisting of 10 international and 100 domestic female observers to observe the Tunisian presidential elections from a gender perspective.
The mission Preliminary Report, presented at a press conference in Tunis on 25 November, contains observations and recommendations to help increase the role of women in democracy. Head of Mission, Ms. Sabra Bano, said, “Tunisia has demonstrated its commitment to human rights and especially women’s emancipation within the region. Although there has been considerable progress, there is still much to be done to improve the political participation of women in Tunisia and especially the economic situation of women living in rural areas. Our teams of observers conducted a large proportion of their observations in polling stations in rural areas around the country”.
Observations on election day revealed a high percentage of women effectively working as polling station staff, even though there was a relatively low number of women security forces. Observers encountered representatives of candidates in nearly all stations, but there were no representatives seen of the female candidate, Khaltoum Kennou.
Other observations included assistance for women with children, and mixed queues except in sensitive, rural areas such as Soliman. In the area near the Algerian border observers were advised by the army not to proceed for security reasons. In some rural areas, female voter turnout was low as it was repeatedly stated that their priority was to work picking olives. Teams also noticed an offer of collective transport to female voters by political agents to gain influence.
As the presence of women in the parliament has been reinforced, and the only female candidate for presidential elections made a symbolic statement by remaining in the race for the presidential election while five male candidates stepped out, it is hoped that the new government nominates a larger number of women as ministers.
Our Preliminary report includes the following recommendations for gender-inclusive elections:
1. Voter registration remains a weak point, especially for rural women. New ways should be explored to complete registration at a lower cost for women in poor regions.
2. A greater number of awareness campaigns and monitoring of participation by women in rural areas remains necessary.
3. Special instructions should be given to polling station staff in order to help illiterate women to vote, and more efforts should be made to reach young female voters.
4. The principle of parity must be legally ensured in the composition of all state institutions, especially in ISIE and HAICA.
5. Regulations should be reviewed to help ensure equal media treatment of male and female candidates.
6. A gender perspective should be considered in all statistics related to elections and be published in order to enable civil society to monitor it.
Gender Election Watch Tunisia partners are proud to see the progress of women’s democratic inclusion to date and hope that experiences from this presidential election can be applied to raise the profile and participation of women as candidates, voters and government officials. Our collective thanks go to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany for support of this mission.
For more information contact:
Matt Luna, Mission Outreach and Management: email@example.com