22 December 2014
Achieving Parity: Tunisian Women Turn Out at Polls
Ready for Higher Government Representation
Tunisian women have once more demonstrated their commitment to democratic participation by turning out in large numbers at the second round of the presidential election. Mission teams at various polling stations, particularly in Tunis, observed that more than 50 percent of registered women cast their vote. Head of Mission Sabra Bano said, “While the ultimate total of women voters remains to be published by ISIE, we are convinced that the number of women appointed as national ministers should reflect the appropriate percentage of women voters and the women who have been recently elected to parliament”.
This largest international observation mission, a joint effort of the 110 international and national observers of Gender Concerns International and Tunisian partner organisations, ATFD, AFTURD and LTDH, continued its vigilance in observing women’s democratic participation around the country.
Ms. Bano commended ISIE for implementing changes that reflect Gender Election Watch recommendations from the first election round. New tabulation sheets to record the number of male and female voters at polling stations is one such example. These statistics of gender-specific voter turnout can be used to address equal electoral conditions. Gender Election Watch looks forward continued engagement with ISIE in future elections.
It was observed that the presidential campaign became aggressive at times. Even though both candidates voiced their support for women’s rights, an atmosphere of campaign tension could discourage some women with concerns about security from voting on election day. ISIE’s decision for the second round to limit political agents to one per candidate in the polling stations in order to avoid incidents was another positive step aimed at creating a more peaceful atmosphere in which to vote, even though it was communicated quickly and not broadly understood at all polling stations that were visited.
Out of these rounds of the national elections to date, lessons should be applied for upcoming local elections in communities around the country. This historic experience is directly applicable from a gender perspective, as local elections provide more opportunities for women to stand as candidates and be elected to leadership posts.
Gender Election Watch Tunisia recommendations from the second presidential round:
1. In accordance with the constitutional parity, and in that women’s voting participation has influenced the election results, women should have the high-level national ministry positions that they merit.
2. The establishment of an active gender unit within ISIE, working closely with grass-roots organisations, would be key to realising these recommendations for women’s democratic participation in all of Tunisia.
3. Election awareness-raising campaigns should reach out increasingly to women, especially in rural areas and young women voters of all areas. Women parliamentarians as well as women’s and human rights organisations could play an increased role in the effectiveness of awareness-raising campaigns.
4. Efforts should be made to get more women as candidates for local elections. Women parliamentarians could be inspiring role models to demonstrate that this is an achievable goal for women.
5. An objective should be to surpass the 31% of women elected in the parliamentary elections. Indeed the newly elected members of parliament can seize a historic opportunity to introduce horizontal and vertical parity in the law on regional and local elections.
6. More female election security personnel should continue to be deployed to polling stations to enhance confidence of polling conditions for female voters.
Gender Concerns International, together with partners ATFD, AFTURD and LTDH, will elaborate on these recommendations during a seminar early in 2015 when the final report will be presented. The partnership looks forward to a continued programme of support for Tunisian women in democracy – as voters, candidates, political leaders and activists.
For more information contact:
Gender Concerns International Tunis
Ibticem Kamoun, Programme Manager
20 rue Emir Abdelkader
1002 Tunis, Tunisia
216 71 306 845
Matt Luna, Mission Outreach and Management: