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EUSpring | Women's political participation in Tunisia

Nihel Ben Amar

Date: 21/01/2016

The collapse of the authoritarian regime in Tunisia in 2011 has given women new opportunities to participate in political life and in civil society activities, standing for elections (2011 and 2014) or becoming members of political parties and associations. Nevertheless, despite these advances and the already positive point of departure thanks to the legacy of Bourguiba, the “liberator of the country and the women”, participation of women remains unsatisfactory. While Tunisian women have enjoyed extended individual rights, especially compared to Arab women in general, since the country became independent in 1956, their political participation has remained controlled by the state. The challenge of increasing the political participation of women, even in a democratic phase of the country’s political life, remains. The new electoral laws from 2011 and 2014 endorse parity and women rights, now guaranteed by the Constitution. However, the implementation of these rights is still at stake.

This paper is published in the framework of the EUSpring project on Democracy and Citizenship in North Africa after the Arab Awakening: Challenges for EU and US Foreign Policy ( The project is carried out by a consortium of organisations, including the European Policy Centre, University of Warwick in the United Kingdom, The German Marshall Fund of the United States, the Cairo Institute for Human Rights, the Centre for Mediterranean and International Studies in Tunisia and the Centre de Recherche sur l'Afrique et la Méditerranée in Morocco and coordinated by Università degli Studi L’Orientale in Naples. The project is supported by the Compagnia di San Paolo.

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