The question of women became one of those fundamental issues used by North African nations in order to demonstrate to Western countries just how “democratic” they were. In this regard, the legislation in favour of women’s emancipation in Tunisia undoubtedly reveals an important peculiarity. In 1956 Tunisia underwent an important modernisation following the independence obtained from France. This produced a social emancipation not found in other Islamic countries, resulting in the acquisition of women’s rights, for example, the abolition of polygamy. Since the 1970s, women have felt as if they are hostages to politics and, through some feminist associations, denounce inequalities despite enjoying certain rights, becoming aware of their subordination in a male-dominated society. With Bourguiba’s successor, Ben ʿAlī, assuming power in 1987, a policy emerged in which the rights of women seemed to be guaranteed, without guaranteeing human rights. And Tunisia revealed, much like other countries, a sort of mutilated modernity, in which the modernisation process was put in motion, without the modernising state committing itself to promoting a political modernity with the adoption of true democratic principles. Moreover, how much did the secularism of the Ben ʿAlī regime coincide with the transformation of Tunisian society? Perhaps the abuse of power by the dictator neutralised the paradigm of human rights? Social and cultural transformation beginning with Bourguiba and continuing with Ben ʿAlī produced an “Islamic-secular” country also as it relates to gender issues. But, with the victory of the Islamic party al-Nahḍayn the 2011 elections, will there be a radical transformation of women in society? And with Tunisia’s new constitution finally being adopted in January 2014, has it been considered a victory for women? This paper seeks to stimulate debate on the issue in the context of post-colonial studies through a social-historical perspective.

The role of women in Tunisia from Bourguiba to the promulgation of new constitution / ELHoussi, L. - In: ORIENTE MODERNO. - ISSN 2213-8617. - 98/2018(2018), pp. 187-202.

The role of women in Tunisia from Bourguiba to the promulgation of new constitution

ELHoussi L
2018

Abstract

The question of women became one of those fundamental issues used by North African nations in order to demonstrate to Western countries just how “democratic” they were. In this regard, the legislation in favour of women’s emancipation in Tunisia undoubtedly reveals an important peculiarity. In 1956 Tunisia underwent an important modernisation following the independence obtained from France. This produced a social emancipation not found in other Islamic countries, resulting in the acquisition of women’s rights, for example, the abolition of polygamy. Since the 1970s, women have felt as if they are hostages to politics and, through some feminist associations, denounce inequalities despite enjoying certain rights, becoming aware of their subordination in a male-dominated society. With Bourguiba’s successor, Ben ʿAlī, assuming power in 1987, a policy emerged in which the rights of women seemed to be guaranteed, without guaranteeing human rights. And Tunisia revealed, much like other countries, a sort of mutilated modernity, in which the modernisation process was put in motion, without the modernising state committing itself to promoting a political modernity with the adoption of true democratic principles. Moreover, how much did the secularism of the Ben ʿAlī regime coincide with the transformation of Tunisian society? Perhaps the abuse of power by the dictator neutralised the paradigm of human rights? Social and cultural transformation beginning with Bourguiba and continuing with Ben ʿAlī produced an “Islamic-secular” country also as it relates to gender issues. But, with the victory of the Islamic party al-Nahḍayn the 2011 elections, will there be a radical transformation of women in society? And with Tunisia’s new constitution finally being adopted in January 2014, has it been considered a victory for women? This paper seeks to stimulate debate on the issue in the context of post-colonial studies through a social-historical perspective.
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