Who should chair the Committee on Women

Who should chair the Women ‘s Committee in Tunisia?

By Ettougourti Mohamed Ali



The question does not arise from a legal perspective. It is clear that the Commission must comply with certain provisions regulating the election of its internal organs including the election of the president.

The question does not arise either from a political perspective: the balance of political forces brings a president to power according to public and secret agreements between the different forces.

The problem mainly arises from a sociological, social perspective, in terms of representativeness and not in terms of representation.

The question is: Which woman is the most representative of the Tunisian Women?

The policy wants that the president's wife is the most representative local woman: like her husband first Sir and first gentleman, she is the First Lady. This is obviously fictitious.

One can think of Tunisian women who forced compliance by their courage and determination in standing up to the dictator, fighting for human rights and especially for women's rights. I would not cite anyone for fear of sinning by omission: They all deserve to be cited and I count among them many friends.

One can think of business women who have by their talent and know-how constituted or managed huge fortunes, carried out profitable projects for them as well as for the country.

One can also think of women of letters, artists,  playwrights, filmmakers, bloggers, pilots, judges, lawyers, doctors, engineers, computer scientists, chemists, etc. ... there are indeed talented women in the country.

For me, I remain convinced that the most representative of the Tunisian women is a mythical character: A product of our imagination far from the stereotypes conveyed by the media and politicians.

In the imagination there is certainly the Unreal, the Delusive, the Chimerical, but there is also the Fabulous, the Legendary, and the Utopian.

In this fictional yet effective world, we find that female characters were adopted and acclaimed by the general public as representative of the Tunisian women, especially the ones living in Tunis, or the city-dwellers in general: I think of the character “ommi  Traki”  played by the late Zohra Faiza and I think of other characters, that appear different but end up representing the same prototype, played greatly by the sublime Mouna Noureddine.

All these female characters, though fictional, they are still representative of Tunisian women.

All these figures boil down to a single one: Tunisian woman is a "mamma”-like Mediterranean mother. A mother hen, commanding everyone: husband, brothers, children and grandchildren. She keeps a close watch like a family Head or a clan leader. She fights tooth and nail for her family, she is venerated, respected by all.

It is certainly not by chance that it was a woman, Damya or better known as the kahina, and not a man who resisted to Umayyad conquest of North Africa .

Kahina was the positive side of our Ommi Traki. She defended the country, she was in the service of her country and not in the only service of a family or a clan, she was the "mama" of a whole country.

Closer to us, Leila Ben Ali too, succumbed to the role of Ommi Traki. Bossy, she defended her clan, subjecting everyone, husband, brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, daughters-in-law to her authority. She was an undisputed head of the family, of the clan and even of the whole country. However, she was the negative side of Ommi Traki, she served one clan, one family, stopping at nothing to satisfy an insatiable voracity.

A "mamma" at the head of the Women Committee ?

Why not ? only close your eyes and imagine the rest. Our women's prototype is not educated, but cultivated. She commands respect by all her natural authority and by her dedication to the service of each and all.

The Chairwoman of the Committee can wear the full veil or the micro skirt, inevitably she will end up being identified with Ommi Traki. She will certainly do a good job as long as she remains a beautiful soul, "ness m'lah ".