Arfaoui K. Women and Leadership in the Post-Arab Spring: The Case of Tunisia. Women’s Movements in Post-“Arab Spring” North Africa [Internet]. 2015 :223-234. Publisher's VersionAbstract

This chapter aims at analyzing the expectations of Tunisian women with the outbreak of the so-called “Arab Spring” and the unexpected events that came not only to counter them but even worse: to bring them back to a status of the Middle Ages. As a result, women’s struggle had to face two things: resist threats to the gains they had made since 1956 with the advent of the Code of Personal Status (CPS) and continue their march towards full equality with men. A beautiful name was given to the revolution that was ignited by the self-immolation of a young fruit and vegetable peddler on 17 December, 2010 in Sidi Bouzid, a small town south of Tunis: the Arab Spring. Why “Spring” when the time was plain winter? Others called it “The Jasmine Revolution,” because Tunisia is a country where Jasmine is the favorite flower of people? What do flowers have to do with revolution? Both names have positive connotations of joy and festivities. This revolution had had no leader and no political party had backed it. It had been a spontaneous movement of youth and women in particular with high expectations for a new democratic Tunisia.


23% des femmes tunisiennes avouent avoir subi des violences, 18% du harcèlement. Tuniscope [Internet]. 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract


23% des sondées ont ainsi avoué avoir été victime de violence. Les formes de violence varient entre : psychologique et verbale (80 %), physique (40%), économique (19.4%), sociale (10.3%) et sexuelle (3.1). Le premier lieu de ces violences est le milieu familial, suivi par les lieux publics et le lieu du travail.

Charmes J, Dedeoglu S, Guessoam S, Jabiri A. Enhancing Women’s Voice, Agency And Participation In The Economy: Studies In Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia And Turkey. European Bank of Reconstruction and Development; 2015. Publisher's VersionAbstract


In addition to its support for project work and policy dialogue, the EBRD’s Gender team also commissions research and takes an active part in the international debate on the promotion of gender equality.

In 2014 we commissioned a report, Enhancing Women’s Economic Empowerment in the EBRD’s Operations through Voice, Agency and Participation, examining the influence of legal pluralism and social norms in Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia and Turkey. The report’s main objective is to provide recommendations on designing project interventions at the Bank that are more reflective and responsive to women’s strategic and practical needs, while contributing overall to the enhancement of women’s voice, agency and participation in social and economic life within the specific contexts of these countries.

These five countries were selected, not only because of shared cultural similarities and Islamic heritage, but also because they co-exist in a region with the lowest women’s labour force participation and economic activity in the world. This is despite high levels of literacy and advances in health, and is what the World Bank has termed the “MENA paradox”. As our study shows, social norms, institutional barriers and discrimination embedded in plural legal frameworks are behind this paradox. As a result, women’s access to economic opportunities that might otherwise raise their voice and influence in society is particularly hindered in this region. The study was designed to align with the inclusive growth paradigm: equal access to opportunities for all members of society, taking into account their specific needs.

Initial findings and analysis were presented to various stakeholders in 2014, including the Multilateral Development Banks Working Group on Gender, the Development Finance Institutions Meeting of Social Experts, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), and internal departments at the Bank. The full publication is expected to be available in early 2015.

Tchaïcha JD, Arfaoui K. Tunisian women in the twenty-first century: past achievements and present uncertainties in the wake of the Jasmine Revolution. The Journal of North African Studies [Internet]. 2012;17 (2) :215-238. Publisher's VersionAbstract


The recent and dramatic changes in Tunisia since the Jasmine Revolution have brought new challenges for its citizens and for its women in particular. Tunisian women, long considered the most liberated in the Arab-Muslim world, are now seeing a growing conservative mind-set spreading across the country. The more frequent appearance of women wearing headscarves and men sporting beards in public, if only an outward symbol of Islam, is unusual behavior in the traditionally secular, post-independent Tunisia. This more conservative phenomenon, although not the primary driver of the recent revolution, has secured a legitimate place in Tunisian society since January 2011. Many Tunisian feminists and NGOs fear that this legitimacy will eventually threaten women's active participation in public and private life, legally guaranteed through the 1956 Code of Personal Status (CPS). In this paper, we examine pre- and post-revolutionary Tunisia to understand the importance and influence of the rising tide of conservatism and its potential impact on women's rights. Two principle questions frame this study: (1) what factors have prompted the re-emergence of the more religiously based conservatism in secular Tunisia in recent years? and (2) will the new Tunisia safeguard the CPS through its transitional period and thereafter? The authors use an interdisciplinary approach in their study, integrating Tunisia's unique past – grounded in historical, political, and socio-economic events and conditions – with the interviews of 33 citizens prior to January 2011, and then evaluate the post-revolutionary events in light of the former. The analyses reveal that before January 2011, the more conservative behaviour was linked to the present-day challenges and global developments, and not necessarily to a deep-rooted Islamic practice and/or religiosity. Since the revolution, however, the legitimate acknowledgement of certain Islamic practices and movements, previously banned over a period of 50 years, has created an audible voice in the public arena which, in turn, has created a renewed and heightened concern about the possible deterioration of women's rights.

Arfaoui DK. Women on the Move for Gender Equality in the Maghreb. Feminisms, Democritization, and Radical Democracy . 2011 :85-115.Abstract

This research paper intends to analyze the impact on their society at large of democratization of women’s roles at home and at the workplace. Because it is important to know the past in order to understand the present, the status of women in the Maghreb countries in the pre-independence era will be presented. But the major part of the research will begin in the 1980s with the early autonomous feminist wave and continues until the present: the first decade of the 2000s.

Several international instruments have provided for women’s equality, but it was at the 1993 Vienna Conference that women’s rights became an integral part of human rights, highlighting the issue of violence against women. However, in spite of progress since then, in particular during the last few decades, women are still far from having reached the equality they have been striving for. Increased information being transmitted via the media, but also via the work done by female activists, together with increased education have led to sweeping social changes, creating awareness among women. As a result, women are increasingly breaking the taboos that used to keep them silent and submissive and are asking for help at the centers ready to aid them find solutions to their problems of violence.