19 December 2014
Women as catalysts of democracy in Tunisia: a threshold of accomplishment to build further progress
Tunisian women played a key role during the revolution and continue to carry these responsibilities into the transitional process. Gender Concerns International, along with partner organisations, ATFD, AFTURD and LTDH, will be present with Gender Election Watch Tunisia to observe the second round of the presidential election on 21 December, and for future elections of the country. In addition, Head of Mission Sabra Bano of Gender Concerns has assured that the organisation will maintain its office in Tunisia to continue work toward the empowerment of women in politics.
Gender Concerns has been engaged with ISIE in the electoral process to stress the importance of women’s participation, and is glad to see the implementation by ISIE of some of the recommendations contained in its Preliminary Report of the previous 2014 elections. The next important step would be the formation of a gender unit within ISIE. Women have been active as agents of positive change in Tunisia, and they certainly will continue to play such role.
To further this electoral engagement, Gender Concerns and partner organisations will organise a seminar early in 2015 based on the final election observation report. Gender Concerns is ready also to offer expertise to women parliamentarians for the elaboration of laws in order to improve the overall situation of women in Tunisia. An upcoming step in building a new democratic Tunisia is the organisation of regional and local elections that will constitute another key opportunity for women to participate in democratic processes.
Although there is an absence of total parity concerning the candidature, women did obtain an approximate representation of 31.3% in the new Tunisian Parliament. This is a highly significant result for women’s political participation as leaders. This percentage of representation is important in comparison to the average of the representation of women in elected assemblies around the world: Europe: 25.3%, United States: 25.6%, Arab countries: 17.8%. Even so, women still represent less than one-third of the Tunisian Chamber.
Women are represented across six political parties, which shows the continuing strength of the women’s movement. The inclusion of women as nearly one-third of the Parliament’s composition, directly through their election by the Tunisian public, demonstrates a tangible commitment to inclusive governance practices. How this will influence government formation itself and the appointment of ministers remains to be seen. The composition of the new Tunisian government should reflect the implication of Tunisian women in the process of the democratic transition, and grant them the place they merit in the political scene. This means better representation than in the transitional government where there were only 2 female ministers out of 22 total, and only one secretary of state out of a total number of 8.
Gender Concerns is pleased to see that both Tunisian presidential candidates have highlighted gender equality during their campaigns. It is hoped that the future government will transform promises into concrete laws and propositions to continue to improve the democratic participation and opportunities for leadership of Tunisian women all over the country.
Gender Election Watch Tunisia 2014 is being carried out by a partnership of Gender Concerns International, 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.
Our sincere thanks go to the Federal Foreign Office of Germany for their support of this mission.
For more information contact:
Matt Luna, Mission Outreach and Management: firstname.lastname@example.org