A survey co-led by researchers at UNU-MERIT has found that women’s economic empowerment in Tunisia remains low, in spite of a nationwide strengthening of legal protections. There was progress, however, on women’s leadership and time use thanks to improvements in education and training.
The results of the survey, presented 11 May 2018 at a workshop in Tunis co-hosted by the Center of Arab Women for Training and Research (CAWTAR), showed that 95% of women living in households with a male decision-maker are not empowered. In other words, they are disadvantaged in at least four of the five domains of empowerment (see table below).
The survey was conducted on a nationally representative sample of 1,150 households, 65% of whom live in cities and 35% live in rural areas. The sample included 2,513 people, 30% of whom are youth and 52% are women. According to the analysis, the result is due to low levels of economic empowerment — i.e. lack of influence over productive and spending decisions, and limited control over resources such as credit and assets. A lack of employment opportunities is part of the problem. When job opportunities are scarce, persistent gender stereotypes and social norms ensure that jobs are first given to men.
On the positive side, Dr. Micheline Goedhuys said that women’s empowerment in the areas of leadership and time use had risen thanks to improvements in education and training across Tunisia. Nevertheless, a raft of policies and programmes — covering health, employment, education and industry — also need to be assessed for their impact on women’s empowerment and gender parity. This is crucial for ensuring inclusive and sustainable development.
For her part, Executive Director of CAWTAR Centre Soukeina Bouraoui said that the survey enables, for the first time in Tunisia, to track the empowerment of women and their decision-making power, particularly within the family. She added that the survey would help policymakers in Tunisia to promote women’s access to finance and services.
Tunisian Minister for Women, Family, Children and the Elderly, Néziha Laabidi, stressed the importance of women’s empowerment in the struggle for gender equality. She added that the governement had set up a series of programmes in the field of economic empowerment of women, including the programme to empower 5,000 women by 2020.
The opinions expressed here are the author’s own; they do not necessarily reflect the views of UNU.
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