Bachelet: Tunisian democracy will not be complete without women

Bachelet in Tunisia.
(Photo: TAP)

Sources: Agence Tunis Afrique PresseTunisiaLiveUNWomen.

“From Tunisia and Egypt to Syria, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain, women have been active participants, calling for democracy, dignity and equality,” said Michelle Bachelet, UN Women Executive Director, at an international conference organised by the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, national focal point of Social Watch in that country. 

Bachelet, also former President of Chile, added that “in Tunisia, the process has reached that moment where calls for equal rights and justice must become policy and practice”.

“Democracy is about grating every citizen’s rights, and when developing a new policy one ought to prioritize and, if you do not consider women’s rights from the beginning, democracy will be incomplete,” she warned, at the conference on "Women and transition to democracy in Arab countries."

Tunisian women “courageously stood for their rights and went on streets defending freedom and justice,” said Bachelet.

In her three day visit, Bachelet called for greater political participation of women including in the upcoming October elections and in the constitution-building processes, emphasizing that gender equality is a pre-requisite in advancing democracy and economic development.

Tunisia’s adoption of an electoral code which ensures gender parity at the nominations level and lays the groundwork for equal political representation for women and men on the ballot has set a leading example for the world, she added.

The conference works were chaired by Lilia Laabidi, Minister of Women, Children, Family and the Elderly, who affirmed that Tunisia was now endeavouring to build-up its democratic experience and achieve democratic transition through equality and social justice.

She stressed that the democratic process could by no means be completed without increasing women's political presence and especially in decision-making positions. 

In a press conference, Bachelet declared that she fully supports the Tunisian Revolution and the democratic transition the country is going through. “Commitment and compromises are essential for the success of this critical period,” she said.

Asked about the concrete contribution of UN Women to help advance Tunisian women, she answered: “We respect the sovereignty of the country and I think that Tunisian women are strong and mature enough to decide which rights need to be promoted.”

To further empower Tunisian women, the UN Women is going to offer technical assistance, fund some ambitious projects, and help Tunisian women fulfill their own initiatives.

“When we empower women, we empower the whole community,” asserted Bachelet, explaining that this will be through implementing gender balance in decision making positions, supporting civil society in its battle against violence against women, and finally empowering women economically to improve family conditions, health and education.