In late 2010, under the now iconic motto ‘The People wants the fall of the regime’, Tunisians collectively spoke out and protested against an oppressive system, lack of income and economic hardship.
This massive and unexpected uprising led to the fall of Ben Ali’s regime on 14 January 2011 after 23 years of dictatorship and triggered the beginning of an unusual wave of revolt in the Arab region. It was an unprecedented display of people acting together and creating a movement for change.
Over 18 months after the revolution, people aren’t yet seeing the changes they expected and fought for. Although there is more freedom of expression and the freedom of association and of the press have improved, these are also at stake and most of the existing repressive laws have not been changed yet. The economy has also experienced a decline due to the civil unrest and a fall of tourism incomes. The transitional government and the Constituent Assembly, in place since October 2011, have a key task to ensure that the future Constitution meets the expectations of the Tunisian people who revolted.
Oxfam in Tunisia
Oxfam has been present in the Maghreb region for a few decades, working closely with and supporting national civil society organizations. Following the revolution, Oxfam set up an office in Tunis in early 2012 to support the civil society movement in the region and in Tunisia, particularly the women’s rights movement.
Oxfam supports different partners in Tunisia who are actively involved in claiming and developing new freedoms and shaping society: in social, economic and political participation.
Women all over the country were at the forefront of the grassroots movement that led to the ousting of Ben Ali. Oxfam aims at increasing women’s participation through working closely with local women’s organizations in order to ensure their economic and social participation. Oxfam also seeks to encourage participation of the younger generation in public and decision-making processes by supporting newly emerging youth movements and associations across the country.
Focus of our work
Ensuring Women’s Rights
Tunisia historically has better legislation in relation to women’s rights than many other countries within the region, mostly based on the Code of Personal Status, but there is a real concern about the impact of current governmental policies on women’s rights in Tunisia. Within the framework of a new political context and new institutions, Oxfam will also ensure the participation of women in political decisions, not only to guarantee their rights but also for them to be included in the reshaping of Tunisia at all levels.
Promoting Democracy and Active Citizenship
As space for civil society was almost inexistent under the dictatorial regime, in a context of renewal and change as experienced in Tunisia, a key challenge is to support the development of civil society initiatives and to help build their capacity, with a focus on a rights-based approach.
Guaranteeing free and safe access to information for all Tunisians is also crucial for Oxfam in order to promote active citizenship. Oxfam also aims to raise awareness and promote social and economic rights.