Tunisia’s Women: Partners in Revolution

Authored by: Andrea Khalil

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Country: Tunisia
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2014
Citation: Khalil, Andrea. "Tunisia's Women: Partners in Revolution." Journal of North African Studies 19, no. 2 (2014): 186–99.

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Executive Summary

This paper examines gender politics of the Tunisian revolution and the transitional period from 14 January 2011 to the elections on 23 October 2011 within the theoretical framework of revolutionary ‘restoration’. The broader arc of the revolution saw a radical change in Tunisia's gender politics from ‘state-feminist’ ideology of the pre-revolution period to decentralised ‘gender activisms’ of the post-revolutionary period. Revolution, however, also moves towards restorations of social and gender dynamics of the previous political order. The post-revolutionary ‘gender activisms’ sought to restore the justice of foundational moral principles: ‘secular human rights’ or ‘Islamist principles’. The transitional government also restored the gendered hierarchies reminiscent of the nationalist period. The restoration of the foundational principles of the Tunisian state and Third World nationalist discourse signalled the persistence of a gender paradox where Tunisian women's social struggles coexisted within the male-gendered politics. The paper presents accounts of women's marginalisation from the post-revolutionary transitional committees, the transitional governments' ministerial positions and from the media. The interviews show diversity in political opinions and orientations between women from different social classes, religious identifications and from different regions.