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Eva Christine Schmidt (Alumna BGSMCS)


Gender Politics in Transition. The Role of Feminist Actors in the Tunisian Transition

Gender Politics in Transition: The Role of Feminist Actors in the Tunisian transitional Process

Gender policies have played a prominent role in Tunisian politics since its independence in 1956. The first president Bourguiba enhanced women’s societal status as part of his modernizing project and to win women’s loyalty. His successor Ben Ali used the protection of women’s rights as an argument to legitimize the persecution of Islamists. Women’s emancipation was thus promoted in a paternalistic logic as a personal project of the presidents. Yet in opposition to this ‘state-feminism’, an autonomous feminist organisation developed in the 1980s. To improve women’s status and avoid repression, these activists constantly had to walk the line between critique of the regime and cooperation with state institutions. Given the association of women’s rights with the old regime, many observers as well as Tunisian feminists feared a backlash after Ben Ali’s departure in January 2011. Nevertheless, both women’s rights and the autonomous feminist actors seem to have maintained an important position in politics. Therefore my PhD project analyses the development of the feminist movement and the conflict on women’s rights during the political transition.

First Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Cilja Harders

Second Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Schirin Amir-Moazami