Women’s Rights Before and After the Revolution

Authored by: Monica Marks

Categories: Statebuilding
Sub-Categories: Political Transitions, Transitional Justice
Country: Tunisia
Region: Middle East and North Africa
Year: 2013
Citation: Marks, Monica. "Women's Rights Before and After the Revolution." In The Making of the Tunisian Revolution: Contexts, Architects, Prospects, edited by Nouri Gana. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013.

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Executive Summary

Women’s rights stood out as one of the most fiercely contested issues in the campaigning that preceded Tunisia’s October 23, 2011 elections, a somewhat surprising development given that economic malaise, corruption, and police brutality—not suppression of women—provided the impetus for Bouazizi’s suicide and the revolution itself. For competing political parties, however, women’s rights represented a useful wedge issue—one that could deflect attention from hastily constructed economic programs and isolate electoral opponents as either “too secular” or “too Islamist” to please the population at large" (1) The article itself: "The first section explores... the modern Tunisian state’s relationship to women’s rights: pursuit of power, monopolization of women’s rights, and the performance-oriented nature of Tunisian state progressivism...The second section focuses attention on challenges affecting women in post-revolutionary Tunisia, briefly highlighting six issues of importance to women’s rights in the transitional context: constitutional drafting, reform of the Personal Status Code, judicial reform, the rights of single mothers, transitional justice, and security reform. I argue that in the context of Tunisians’ efforts to forge a truly democratic polity, threats to women’s rights are more likely to stem from deeply embedded social norms and weak institutions than from deliberate machinations of Islamist ideology.