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 “honorary” label only concerns legislation and has nothing to do with real life.
I don’t deny the fact that in Tunisia we share almost equally, as males and females, many basic rights. But the question is: do we really have total equality?
Today, I’ll not talk about law because apart of some exceptions, it isn’t the biggest challenge. The real gender equality needs enforcement starting from society. The Tunisian society, with some slight differences up to every region, educates children unequally. There are exclusive rights for males and especially a bizarre perspective of how to raise a “man”.
Those same rights are legally equal for both genders. But the family doesn’t allow females to practice them. To be more specific, let me tell you about some imperfections in the Tunisian education:
Activism and Gender Inequality:
Activism needs time, effort and availability. Going out is one of the biggest problems for females. 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 real places in the political parties or the syndical organization (UGTT) and unfortunately confront harassment daily once they’re in. The current conception about raising females, which is very traditionalist, considers women as a subject of protection. The Tunisian family, even though it provides to females the right to education and having a career, still priors family duties (taking care of the husband, children and the house) to the associative or political life. The Tunisian women are considered inferior, incomplete and incapable of dealing with pressure in politics. Thus, in the Tunisian modern history, there is almost only one female minister in the Tunisian government and most critics believe that this minister has rather a decorative role not a functional one.
Family Duties and 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 though women work outside and make the same efforts as men, they have to do lonely most of the house chores. The Café is a specific tradition for Tunisian men. Almost every man in Tunisia after leaving duty, in both city and countryside, spend hours in Cafés smoking, playing cards and chitchatting while women are obliged to go back home right after finishing work to clean the house and take care of the children. The absurd phenomenon in Tunisia is that women who suffer from inequality raise their children the same way their parents did. She allows her son/s to go play outside playing football and so on or even to spend time in Cafés but forces her daughter/s to help her with the house shores and to stay at home. So there is no wonder that in many houses, the sister cleans after her brother or the daughter after her father.
The Tunisian family members rarely share equally the house shores. Consequently, the male is dependent to the female and the female is overtired.