IIE Blog Opening Minds
IIE Blog Opening Minds

Celebrating Tunisia's National Women's Day

By: Julia Hendrickson on Thursday, August 11, 2016

Sixty years ago, after gaining independence from France, Tunisia adopted the most progressive laws supporting women’s rights in the Middle East. The Tunisian Code of Personal Status outlawed polygamy, and gave women equal rights around decisions of marriage, divorce and child custody. Over the years, many have tried in the name of religion and cultural norms to challenge these laws. Most recently, the first draft of Tunisia’s new constitution released in 2012 caused outcry among women and emerging civil society organizations when Article 28 described women’s roles in the family as “complementary” to that of men.

WES entrepreneur creates jewelry to sell through her business located in Kairouan, TunisiaAs testament to the growing strength of women’s organizations in Tunisia, the “complementary” clause of Article 28 was removed from the next draft. In 2014, after many months of hard work and sustained advocacy, the rights won by Tunisian women over more than half a century were safely enshrined in the country’s new constitution.

Each year on August 13th, Tunisians celebrate National Women’s Day. For many, it’s a day to acknowledge what they have achieved for women’s rights, while recognizing and continuing to fight the many challenges that still exist against gender equality.

IIE’s Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) program confronts these challenges by building the capacity of women-focused civil society organizations in Tunisia to empower women entrepreneurs in their communities. WES supports partner organizations to operate Centers for Women’s Business Development. Through these Centers, women gain skills, networks, and support to launch and grow businesses. The WES Centers also provide a unique space where women can gather, gain leadership skills, learn about women’s rights and engage in civil society.

Follow us on Facebook or check out our website to see how WES is celebrating National Women’s Day.

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For more than nine decades, the Institute of International Education has been at the forefront of international education. The Opening Minds blog is IIE’s take on how this field continues to change. Here the Institute’s leaders will explore international educational exchange, global student mobility, institutional partnerships, international development, and other topics and trends that are shaping higher education around the world.

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