News / Africa

Women Fight for Equal Role on Tunisia's Future Path

Henry Ridgwell
As the political crisis in Tunisia deepens, opposition groups are continuing to demand fresh elections. As in the revolution two years ago, women are at the vanguard of the activists demanding change.

In a cold gymnasium adorned with Tunisian flags, the national wrestling team trains for its next tournament.  Here, men train alongside women, youth alongside adults.

Marwa Meziane is women's African champion at 48 kilograms, and competed at the London 2012 Olympics.

She says training with the men adds a lot, it is more challenging and more fun.

Tunisia won its first women's medal at the 2012 Olympics.  But conservative Muslims objected to the attire worn by 3,000-meter steeplechase silver-medalist Habiba Ghribi.

In Tunisia, women's sport has found itself drawn into the debate on the future role of women in society.

A draft of the new constitution written last year described women as 'complementary to a man.'  That produced a storm of criticism from women's rights groups, and the clause was dropped.

Activist Ahlem Belhaj is from the Association of Democratic Women.

Belhaj says it's true there have been achievements in certain areas like equal representation, or in the drafting of the constitution, but there have been steps backwards at the level of society, and the fight continues.

The constitution is still being debated in the National Assembly.  Meherzia Labidi is the assembly's vice president and a member of the ruling Ennahda party.  She says the draft text describing the role of women was mistranslated.

"Now we are moving towards an article about women's rights that is more precise, that is clearer, so having more legal impact. And what is important in this article is that it mentions that the state shall commit itself to guarantee women's rights, "Labidi.

At a recent pro-Ennahda rally, this woman explained why she supports the Islamist party.

She says she stands for women who have children, for women who respect their husbands, who respect their work, who respect their lives.

A differing view comes from Emna Menif, president of the social activist group Kolna Tounes. She says Ennahda's influence on the government is putting women's rights at risk.

Menif says political Islamists reject all opposing ideas, and that women in particular are a target for those who are working to spread the doctrine of the Muslim Brotherhood.   She says women are even more marginalized and are more at risk than the rest of the population.

Back at the gymnasium, the wrestling team continues its daily regime.  Hedia Trabelsi is a World Championships bronze medalist at 51kilograms.

She says women have a distinguished place in Tunisian society. They work hard to achieve and to give more back to society.

The women and the men in the national team say they try to ignore the politics and focus on one thing: honoring the Tunisian flag.

You May Like

Mugabe Dismisses Male-Female Equality

'It is not possible that women can be at par with men' incoming African Union president declares on eve of summit More

Somali Terror Suspect's Light Sentence Raises Questions

Abdullahi Yusuf, 18, could have spent 15 years in prison but judge instead sentenced him to a halfway house, and a program to try to integrate him back into the community More

Video Kobani Ravaged Following Kurdish Ouster of IS Militants

Even so, hundreds of refugees sheltering in Turkey seek to return; Kurdish forces hold some back, saying fighting continues More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Productioni
X
George Putic
January 29, 2015 9:43 PM
The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Groundbreaking Hand-Painted Documentary About Van Gogh in Production

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Super Bowl Ads Compete for Eyes on TV, Web

Super Bowl Sunday (Feb. 1) is about more than just the NFL's American football championship and big parties to watch the game. Viewers also tune in for the world famous commercials that send Facebook and Twitter abuzz. Daniela Schrier reports on the social media rewards for America’s priciest advertising.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Freedom on Decline Worldwide, Report Says

The state of global freedom declined for the ninth consecutive year in 2014, according to global watchdog Freedom House's annual report released Wednesday. VOA's William Gallo has more.
Video

Video MRI Seems to Help Diagnose Prostate Cancer, Preliminary Study Shows

Just as with mammography used to detect breast cancer, there's a lot of controversy about tests used to diagnose prostate cancer. Fortunately, a new study shows doctors may now have a more reliable way to diagnose prostate cancer for high risk patients. More from VOA's Carol Pearson.
Video

Video Smartphones About to Make Leap, Carry Basic Senses

Long-distance communication contains mostly sounds and pictures - for now. But scientists in Britain say they are close to creating additions for our smartphones that will make it possible to send taste, smell and even a basic touch. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Crowded Republican Presidential Field Off to Early Start for 2016

It seems early, but the 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign is already heating up. Though no one has officially announced a candidacy, several potential Republican contenders have been busy speaking to conservative groups about making a White House run next year. Many of the possible contenders are critical of the Obama administration’s foreign policy record. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid