Presidential elections: How candidates are playing the « Tunisian woman » card

Editorial / Opinion Piece / Blog Post

September 27, 2019

Presidential elections: How candidates are playing the « Tunisian woman » card


By Ikram Ben Said and Samah Krichah,

The 2019 presidential campaign began on Monday, September 2, 2019. Between those who have it, those who want to have it, and those who are preventedfrom having it, the fight over power has just started. Like every election, candidates are playing the « Tunisian woman » card and pitting us, Tunisian women, against each other, instrumentalizing the question of equality. Pretending to be the liberators or protectors of the “Tunisian woman” isa tradition which stems from a long history of State-feminism that was key throughout many phases of Tunisian history. Now, however, such discourse is void. We thought that Tunisian women killed the father in 2011 and should not seek to replace him with a new one, and that no candidate should pretend to father us. The time for nostalgia is over.

We Tunisian women have become accustomed to accepting a public narrative that treats us as one homogeneous group: « la femme tunisienne », or “the Tunisian woman”. The truth is that we are different, diverse, divided, and anything but homogeneous. We have been watching and monitoring what has been said about Tunisian women throughout the lead-up to these elections. Every candidate inevitably plays the « Tunisian woman” card. The term« Tunisian woman » is used in the singular form and molded to reflect what a candidate thinks Tunisian women should be or should look like, denying us agency and treating us as a problem to solve and a box to tick off on his political agenda.

Click here to read the full article published by Nawaat on 13 September 2019.