/ 7 December 2011

Tunisia’s Ennahda puts focus on gender equality

Tunisia's Ennahda Puts Focus On Gender Equality

The Islamist party that won Tunisia’s first post-revolution election said on Tuesday it would elevate a decades-old gender equality statute to a basic law.

“We want the personal status code to become a basic law so that no one can tamper with it by a simple majority vote,” Nourredine Bhiri, spokesperson of the Ennahda party, told parliamentarians.

A basic law can be changed or annulled only by a two-thirds majority, compared with a simple majority for other laws.

Tunisians, primarily moderate Sunni Muslims, gained the gender equality statute, unique in the Arab world under independence leader Habib Bourguiba in 1956.

The ground breaking document enshrined gender equality, abolished polygamy and prevented men from unilaterally divorcing their wives, though it did not go so far as to guarantee women’s inheritance rights.

Women’s rights
Ennahda won 90 of the 217 seats in the north African country’s new constituent assembly following the first election after long-time dictator Zine el Abidine Ben Ali was toppled in January.

It has pledged to uphold civil and women’s rights.

Tunisia produced the Arab world’s first female doctor and women first voted in national elections in 1956.

They joined the ranks of the police and army the same year. — AFP