Status of Women in Tunisia

Survey findings indicate there is support among both men and women for women’s involvement in various political roles, although men display lower support. In addition, nearly two-thirds of Tunisians support the gender list parity requirement in the October National Constituent Assembly election. While the general concept of gender quotas is little known in Tunisia, there is support for their introduction in future parliamentary elections amongst those who are aware of them. As the Constitution is being drafted and as electoral reforms continue, women’s advocates may demand the inclusion of gender quotas in future parliamentary elections. Still, the data shows that awareness of this concept and the rationale for supporting gender quotas needs to be raised amongst Tunisians.

While a majority of Tunisians support women in political roles, but a sizeable portion opposes it.Women in Tunisia have long enjoyed equal access to education and other guarantees considered progressive for the region. In this time of transition in Tunisia, women have an opportunity to preserve their gains and push for even more advances, particularly in the political arena. In fact, asked generally about the overall status of women in Tunisia, a majority of Tunisians (86%) view women’s status as very good (36%) or somewhat good (50%). There is not a large difference in opinion between genders when assessing women’s status. Women are only slightly more likely to rate the status of women as good than men (Figure 1).

Tunisians are essentially optimistic about the impact of the revolution on the status of women in their country. Indeed, 64% of Tunisians believe after the revolution women’s status will improve, 26% feel it will stay the same and only 4% believe it will get worse. Again, women are just slightly more likely than men to expect the status of women to improve following the revolution (Figure 2).

One of the decree-laws requires that in the upcoming election political party lists consist of half women and half men, alternating between the two genders, also known as list parity. Nearly two-thirds of Tunisians say they strongly (34%) or somewhat (30%) support this requirement, 27% oppose it and 9% say they do not know. Majorities of both men and women support the list parity; however, significantly more women support it than men (85% vs. 53%, respectively) and more women strongly support this requirement than men (45% vs. 24%) (Figure 3).