Gender Equality in Tunisia by Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

Gender Equality in Tunisia: Between Law and Society

I may be living in one of the most advanced countries in terms of gender equality. As far as I am concerned, this “honorable” label only regards to legislation and has nothing to do with real life.

I won’t deny the fact that in Tunisia we, men and women, share almost at the same imageextent many basic rights; however, the question is: do we really have total equality?

Today I won’t talk about law because apart from some exceptions, it is not the biggest challenge; for gender equality to become real the enforcement needs to start from society. The Tunisian society, with some slight differences among the regions, educates their children unequally. There are exclusive rights for males and, especially, a bizarre perspective of how to raise a “man”. Under the law, those rights are the same for both genders, but the families do not allow females to benefit from them. To be more specific, let me tell you about some imperfections on the Tunisian education system.

·Activism & Gender Inequality:

Activism needs time, effort and availability: most of the Tunisian families limit their daughters’ activities to their studies. The Tunisian woman is rarely present in the political life. Women have to go through the famous “war of the sexes” to take power positions in political parties or trade unions (UGTT) and, unfortunately, they have to daily confront harassment once they are in.

The current very traditional conception on how to raise females, considers women as a subject of protection. The Tunisian family, even when it provides females with the right to education and of having a career, still prioritizes family duties (taking care of the husband, children and house) to the associative or political life. The Tunisian women are considered inferior, unprepared and incapable of dealing with the pressure in politics. Thus, in the Tunisian modern history, there has been basically only one female minister in the Tunisian government and most critics would say that this minister had rather a decorative role than a functional one.

·Family Duties & Gender Inequality:

Most of the family duties, as I mentioned before, are attributed to women. Husbands and wives rarely share the function of raising children. Plus, even when women work outside the house and make the same efforts as men, they are still in charge of doing most of the house chores.

The Café is a very important tradition for Tunisian men. Almost every man in Tunisia by the end of their workday, both in the city and the countryside, spend hours in Cafés, smoking, playing cards and chitchatting, while women are obliged to go back home right after finishing their shift, to clean the house and take care of the children. The most absurd phenomenon in Tunisia is that those women who suffer from inequality raise their children in the same way their parents did, allowing their sons to go play football outside, or even to spend time in the Cafés, but forcing their daughters to help them with the house chores and having to stay at home. So there is no wonder that in many houses, the sister cleans for her brother and the daughter for her father. The Tunisian family members rarely share equally the house chores, consequently the male is dependent on the female and the female is over-tired.


Rahma Sghaier, Tunisia

YaLa Young Leaders

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