386.2 Governance, women, and the new Tunisia

Thursday, August 2, 2012: 4:30 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jane TCHAICHA , Modern Languages, Bentley College, Waltham, MA
Khedija ARFAOUI , American Studies, Activist and feminist researcher, La Marsa, Tunisia
This paper will consider the important events and challenges as they pertain to female governance in the “New Tunisia”, resulting in part from the recent elections of National Constituent Assembly charged with writing a new constitution.  The analysis will focus on the role women played in the election process, including women’s participation the interim government (January 2011-November 9, 2011) and political parties, followed by an in depth examination of the recent debates and actions that have since emerged among various factions which, for many citizens, appear to threaten the Tunisian women’s longstanding, cherished freedoms. The principal research question asks, “In light of the recent election results in Tunisia and the increasing presence of conservative factions in Tunisia, how are Tunisian women responding to a possible threat to their most cherished freedoms guaranteed in the Code of Personal Status?”

The study will integrate several investigative approaches:  historical narrative of factual events, participant observation (from both researchers), interviews with male and female candidates for the constituent assembly, and careful review of the ongoing actions and activities of women’s groups and societal challenges since October 23, 2011, which in turn, may lead to significant change in the role Tunisian women will play in their country. The paper will conclude with recommendations as to what women in other countries in the MENA region may need to consider to ensure their civic engagement and civil rights as democratic change continues to move across borders.