The Arab country goes to the polls for the first time since the revolution of 2011

The women of Tunisia want to lead the change

Since the overthrow of the Ben Ali dictatorship seven years ago, Tunisia has not yet experienced the profound changes that society demanded when this small country rose up against the established order in the framework of the Arab Spring. However, the municipal elections that were held on May 6 mean a lot to a pioneering nation in Human Rights in Africa, that wants to be one more time one of the leaders of the continent.

Leer en español: Las mujeres de Túnez quieren liderar el cambio

In addition to being able to democratically elect their representatives, these elections are special, since for the first time they offer lists with parity between men and women. The voters were excited to go to the polling stations to exercise their right, according to the media Aljazeera in an interview with an anonymous woman: "I am not very satisfied with the politicians, so I am going to vote for a woman, I only ask for one thing, if she is elected that please be honest ". 49.3% of the candidates are women, something extraordinary in Africa and that has been possible thanks to the electoral law that the Arab country approved. This decree allows candidates to attend the elections on equal terms with men, even as list leaders.

Torkia Chebbi, vice president of the League of Tunisian voters, indicates that this is positive because it shows that "there is political will", but believes that in reality and in mentalities men continue to play with advantage.

The parity in the lists has been respected by the main political parties like the conservative Nidaa Tounes and the Islamist Ennahda, but when the lists are checked only 30% are led by women. The most anticipated duel is that of Souad Abderrahim, a 54-year-old pharmacist who was imprisoned in the 1980s for her feminist militancy, being one of the first Tunisian women to remove her veil, and Kamel Idir, former president of one of the teams of most important soccer of the Tunisian capital, the Club Africain.

If the formations are analyzed independently, it is when the data is more discouraging, since only 4% of them are led by women. Asma Hamza is one of the few list heads representing the Civil Union party and she is very clear about why she decided to present herself. "My country is going through a critical situation and we are the ones that are best able to reverse this situation. I am very confident because we are politically aware and we want to help our society and our economy. We are ready. Women are at the forefront of problems, we know them well", said Hamza.

The League of Tunisian voters recognizes that reaching this point has not been a path of roses. This organization has been training for months all the women who have wanted to get into politics. Many of them have had to suffer insults, intimidation, threats and campaigns to ridicule them just because they are women.

The Tunisians hope to recover the modern and tolerant essence that has traditionally been associated with Tunisia. Already in 1956, just after its independence from France, this small Arab country abolished polygamy and repudiation, allowed divorce and set the minimum age to marry in 17 years, laws difficult to imagine in most countries of the region.

Latin American Post | José María González Alonso

Translated from "Las mujeres de Túnez quieren liderar el cambio"

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