During a forum that was held a few days ago, active members of the civil society along with politicians gathered to discuss the topic of equity and public services.
Secret Ingredients for Success in the Civil Society
Mr Fatnassi, the manager of Forum Tunisian pour les Droits Economiques et Sociaux, said that “Kairouan is rated number one in social movements and in raising developmental issues” and that “engaging many NGOs is crucial for the success of these movements.” He added “Taking the initiative, sacrifice, daily and continuous hard work and the ability to convince others are very important” and that “achieving goals is not only about protests, but it’s also about the power of suggestion.”
What is Feminism?
Ms. Saidi started her speech with the topic of women’s rights and the concept of femininity versus that of feminism. She says that women’s rights are part and parcel of human’s rights, and that feminism was given birth to due to the dominance of the patriarchal society. She then quoted Simone de Beauvoir: “One is not born a woman, but becomes one.”
“Feminism includes everyone; women and men.”
“We demand justice because in a just world everybody is equal.”
What is “equity”?
Anissa Saidi, an executive member at the Tunisian Association for Democratic Women, defined the framework and meaning of the word “equity” which is a mechanism that has been discussed ever since the 90’s. She said that “equity” is not a matter of quantity only, but it’s also a whole philosophy.
“Equity does not mean preferring women over men,” she says.
Most of the international conventions have already been ratified by Tunisia, like the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
Article 21 of the Tunisian Constitution defends “equality”.
Article 46 of the Tunisian Constitution defends “equity”.
“Regardless of our ideological differences, the Nahdha political party has delivered an important message to society because it has attributed the equity principle during the past Constituent Assembly,” affirmed the ATFD executive member.
All the discriminatory laws must be revised.
Women must appear more on the media, and by “appear”, Ms Saidi meant listening to what they have to say and not witness women’s mere physical presence.
Women must overcome gender roles inside of their own family circle and then in society. The process of liberating oneself from these stereotypical roles must be done gradually to assure its success.
Aida Guizani talked about the Public Service Act which, according to her, does not discriminate between men and women. However, Article 11 and Article 70 contain restrictions which are exclusive to women.
The Labor code also restricts the employment of women in two other Articles, one that covers working “underground” and the other is about “metalworking”.
While in the Labor code the types of restrictions were clarified, in the Public Service Act, they were not.
Ms. Guizani concluded her intervention, saying that the Equity Law appeared only in the Electoral Law. But, in the public service arena, it is a mere principle awaiting its activation, and it will never come to life unless we use the appropriate mechanisms.
Equity is not only a Law
Ms Saidi said that women must fight for citizenship as female citizens. Tunisians must fight for the rationing, applying and practice of the principle of equity to provide equal opportunities for everyone, crucial needs (shelter, job, health, education, etc) and long-term strategic needs.
Everyone must put on the “gender eyeglasses”, especially the media. The state budget must put gender into consideration.
However, “equity is not only a law but also a mentality.”
Attendants proposed the following:
The consolidation of feminist principles in the intellect of the youth ever since the preliminary levels.
Women’s issue must be about the advancement of the whole society and not the advancement of women only.