Citizenship and Gender Equality in the Cradle of the Arab Spring
As a regional pioneer in gender standards, with its 1956 family legislation, and in democratic standards, with its flagship role in the 2011 revolution, Tunisia is an excellent example of the intertwined relationship between gender militancy and political militancy. This chapter illustrates this thesis by highlighting the role that Tunisian women and Tunisian women’s organizations played before and during the country’s political transition, as well as the stakes that they have in its outcome. In particular, it shows how the social progress and the political progress of a country are really two sides of the same coin, and that by advancing the cause of gender equality, Tunisian women have advanced the cause of democracy simultaneously, to the greater benefit of their country and the region as a whole. This has resulted in a modern progressive constitution of which Tunisians are rightfully proud.
I gratefully acknowledge the following political figures and scholars who graciously agreed to meet me and answer questions: Mr. Taieb Baccouche, PhD, scholar, university professor, political activist, and former minister of education in the first post-revolution government (interviewed in Tunis on July 17, 2013); Ms. Boshra Bel Haj Hmida, attorney, political activist, feminist, and former president of the NGO Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (interviewed by phone on January 15, 2014); Ahlem Belhaj, medical doctor and professor of medicine, director of a hospital ward for child psychology, and president of the NGO Tunisian Association of Democratic Women (interviewed in Tunis on August 22, 2013); Ms. Emna Jebloui, university professor at the University of Tunis, a consultant for the UNDP, director of the Tunisian Institute of Political Science, and an advisor to the president of the National Constitutional Assembly (interviewed in Tunis on August 18, 2013); and Mr. Neji Jelloul, university professor, political activist, and expert in Islamic studies (interviewed in Tunis on August 10, 2013).
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