Tunisia’s democratic transition testifies to its resilience and determination in the face of endemic structural challenges and regional conflicts. Since the Arab uprisings in 2010, the country has made significant advancements in human rights, political rights and governance. After adopting a new Constitution in 2014, Tunisia experienced progress, particularly in establishing an advanced gender equality legal framework.
However, despite significant democratic progress, transition continues to face challenges in implementing legislation and socio-economic initiatives to improve the lives of all Tunisians, including women, risking setbacks on hard-won democratic gains. Regional conflicts and increasing exclusion and marginalization of the youth and other vulnerable groups, particularly women, risk obstructing Tunisia’s achievement of Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals, and increasing instability. COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women and resulted in alarmingly higher levels of domestic and gender-based violence.
According to the World Economic Forum, Tunisia ranks 124 out of a total of 153 countries on its 2020 Global Gender Gap report. It also ranks 95 on the Gender Inequality Index of the United Nations Development Programme
In 2020, Tunisia became one of the Global Leaders of the Generation Equality Action Coalitions to accelerate gender equality. As convenor of this global forum, UN Women is committed to support Tunisia on its path towards gender equality and women’s rights. During the 16 Days of Activism of 2020, UN Women, in partnership with the Ministry of Women, World Food Programme, United Nations Population Fund and civil society organisations launched a national hackathon “Hack4Her”. Young Tunisians from across the country participated in an intensive 72-hours coding competition to develop innovative solutions to respond to violence against women.
Tunisia’s main obstacles to gender equality and women’s empowerment:
- Women’s high rate of unemployment and limited participation in economic life, making them more vulnerable to poverty, especially in rural areas;
- Persistent social norms and cultural beliefs that exacerbate violence against women and infringe on their right to free and dignified lives;
- Limited participation of women in politics, leadership and public life;
- Inadequate implementation laws and measures to protect women from all forms of violence;
- Discriminatory laws and policies that infringe on women’s rights, access to justice and economic prosperity;
- Limited engagement of men and boys as advocates for gender equality, resulting in increasing unpaid care work for women and girls as well as in violence against them.
Since 2009, UN Women has developed strong partnerships with the Government, particularly the Ministry of Women, Family and Seniors, as well as with civil society, development partners, UN agencies, academia and the wider public to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment in four main areas:
- Women’s equal political leadership and participation;
- Women’s economic empowerment and autonomy;
- Women and girls’ equal engagement in and contribution to resilience, peacebuilding and prevention of crises;
- Strengthening Tunisia’s policies, standards and gender-responsive budgeting to empower women and reduce inequalities between women and men, in line with Tunisia’s international commitments on gender equality and women’s empowerment.
Areas of work and programmes
Over the past four years, UN Women in Tunisia has implemented programmes and activities to enhance gender equality in line with UN Women’s global Strategic Plan (2018-2021) UN Women’s strategic goals are aligned to the United Nations Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework (UNSDCF) and national priorities to advance gender equality and women’s rights.
UN Women is currently supporting the Government and the people of Tunisia to place gender equality and women’s empowerment agenda at the heart of national priorities to attain inclusive growth and social justice. Under four areas of work, we seek to make an impact in the lives of women and girls and ensure that:
- Women equally lead, participate in and benefit from governance systems.
UN Women in Tunisia aims to accelerate the development and implementation of gender-responsive laws, policies and programmes through gender-responsive governance, budgetary systems and data collection. Programming and advocacy in support of women’s full participation and leadership in decision-making while combatting political violence against them are implemented through the provision of technical and financial support to parliamentary women’s coalitions, the network of elected municipal women, and close partnership with the Independent High Electoral Commission and the Independent Elections Instance.
A key enabler of gender-sensitive frameworks and national strategies, UN Women works to increase awareness and knowledge about gender-responsive budgeting (GRB) and statistics through collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics, Budgetary Resource Management and Gender Focal Points at ministries, including the Ministry of Economy, Finance and Investment Support and the newly created National Observatory for Combatting Violence against Women.
To promote the accountability of transitional justice mechanisms, UN Women works with special police units, judges, and civil society organizations to improve their competencies in applying a gender-sensitive approach to dealing with human rights violations, interpretation and application of the law, as well as support women’s access to legal aid and justice.
- Women have income security, economic autonomy and decent work conditions.
UN Women in Tunisia works to address the economic hardships that stand in the way of women’s right to live a free and dignified life, and severely limit their health, education and other life choices. UN Women continues to be a knowledge broker for gender-responsive economic policies by providing expert research and policy recommendations such as “The Role of the Care Economy in Promoting Gender Equality”, and a gender-sensitive socio-economic analysis of fiscal policies to identify and raise awareness about the challenges that women face at different levels, including access to legal services.
The entity works with partners to reach vulnerable women, particularly those working in the informal sector, to raise awareness about their economic rights and opportunities, economic violence and available services and support. Moreover, UN Women provides tailored support to women-led micro-businesses, including capacity building and financial grants to support business survival and long-term business growth during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Women and girls contribute and have greater influence in building sustainable peace and resilience, and benefit equally from the prevention of natural disasters and conflicts and humanitarian action.
UN Women works with the Ministry of Women, Family, Children and Seniors and other executive bodies, civil society, elected persons and the youth to leverage Tunisia’s commitment to the Women, Peace and Security agenda in its National Action Plan (NAP) on UN Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325. UN Women continues to support the monitoring and evaluation of this plan as well as the development of the second phase.
UN Women has also supported the meaningful engagement of state, civil society, parliamentarians and locally elected officials in the implementation of the NAP through strategically targeted and interactive events.
UN women also works to promote inclusive development, gender equality and principles of non-violence to strengthen social cohesion and prevent violent extremism. Additionally, UN Women collaborates with grassroots civil society organizations, the youth and academia to implement the regional programme “Men and Women for Gender Equality” to promote positive masculinity through social media campaigns.
- A comprehensive and dynamic set of global norms, policies and standards on gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls is strengthened and implemented.
UN Women leverages its comparative advantage to link global and national policy development and bridge the gap between global normative commitments and their impactful implementation in Tunisia. UN Women works with diverse key national stakeholders, including civil society and youth, to build their capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation of normative frameworks such as the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, the Istanbul Convention and UNSCR 1325.
This work also includes promoting more effective coordination, coherence and gender mainstreaming across the UN system in support of commitments for gender equality and women’s empowerment. UN Women co-leads the UN Gender Working Group with United Nations Population Fund and has partnered with the Canadian Embassy to co-lead the Gender Development Group, that brings together the international community alongside UN counterparts to enhance coordination and foster synergies among the various development actors
Key facts and figures:
- Population:7 million (2020)
- Unemployment rate: Total 17.4% (Male 14.4 %, Female 24.9%) (2020)
- Percentage of women representation in parliament: 8% (2020)
- Percentage of women ministers:2% (2021)
- Total fertility rate (births per woman):20 (2019)
- Literacy rate for the adult female population:2% (2014)
- Percentage of women in the labor force:4% (2019)
- Female Active employed population: 528.1 (INS Data Portal, 2019)
Key knowledge Products
- Gender and Crisis of COVID-19 in Tunisia: Challenges and Recommendations
- Tunisian women in the face of COVID-19: During and After confinement
- Santé des femmes en Tunisie: Les défis pendant et après la COVID-19
- Où en sont les Tunisiennes au regard de l’ODD3 pendant et après la COVID-19?
- Crise de COVID-19 en Tunisie : Cadre juridique et genre
- The Role of the Care Economy in Promoting Gender Equality
- National Action Plans on Women, Peace and Security: Critical Tools in COVID-19 Responses in the Arab States Region
- This is what leadership looks like: Meet Kaouther Kotersi, breaking barriers for people living with disabilities in Tunisia
- From where I stand: “Women have to be at the heart of the Africa of tomorrow”
- I am Generation Equality: Racha Haffar, anti-trafficking activist
للتغلب على الصعوبات التي فرضها #كوفيد19، تدعو حملة #لأني_رجل، بدعم من #السويد، الرجال في #تونس إلى إظهار الجانب الايجابي للرجولة من خلال التزامهم بالمساواة بين الجنسين داخل المنزل وخارجه. pic.twitter.com/Zqwr81gYIq— ONU Femmes Tunisie (@onufemmestn) July 11, 2021
UN Women Tunisia and Libya Cluster Office
Maison Bleue -Rue de Lac Windermere, Les Berges du Lac I – 1053 Tunis – Tunisie
P.O. Box 1053
Tel: (+216) 36 011 680