First Published: 2004-10-28

Women win unprecedented share in Tunisian Parliament

Ben Ali’s decision to advocate larger presence of women in politics earns them 22.7% of seats.


Middle East Online

From equality to effective partnership

Tunis - Women have won an unprecedented share of 22.7% of the seats in the new Tunisian Chamber of Deputies.

Legislative elections, which were held on October 24th with the participation of seven political parties and close to 1,000 candidates, have allowed women to win a record number of seats.

A total of 43 out of the Chamber of Deputies’ 189 newly-elected members are women. Amongst them, 39 belong to the majority party, the Democratic Constitutional Party (RCD). The four remaining women members belong to three opposition parties: "The Popular Unity Party" (PUP), "The Unionist Democratic Union" (UDU) , and the Social Democratic Movement (MDS) The higher figure of women MP's was facilitated by a decision of President Zine El Abididine Ben Ali earmarking 25% of the slots on the governing party’s legislative slates to women.

The percentage of women in the new Tunisian legislature is the highest since the country’s independence and one of the highest in the world.

According to the most recent figures put out by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (, the ratio of Tunisian women in Parliament is above the 15% average for women in parliaments around the world and higher than the averages in all regions of the world with the exception of the Nordic countries.

In his electoral program, President Ben Ali had advocated "a larger presence for women in decision-making and responsibility positions" and called for a transition for women "from equality to effective partnership" (

Women of Tunisia enjoy equal rights and are active in all walks of life. They constitute 27% of judges, 31% of lawyers, 40% of higher education teachers and 34.4% of the journalists.

The RCD party has won 152 out of 189 seats in the Chamber of Deputies after the 0ctober 24th vote. Five of the country’s seven opposition parties won seats in the Chamber of Deputies.


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