SOUSSE, Tunisia – How to fight against inequalities between women and men on the way to peaceful coexistence? How to overcome cultural barriers to achieve greater promotion of women?
“These are major issues in our country, but there is little consensus on the issues,” Mohamed Ben Moussa, a representative of the Tunisian Baha’i community, said during a discussion on the advancement of women who are was held last week in Sousse. The rally, organized by the country’s Baha’i community, brought together some 40 people, including religious and civil society leaders, in a “cultural café” – a new type of forum emerging in Tunisia in which people from all over the world. all strata of society come together to exchange ideas and explore ideas about the progress of their society.
“Our country has been presented as an example for the advancement of women in the Arab region,” continued Mr. Ben Moussa, “but many people think that we have reached a plateau. The laws of our country have progressed, but it is essential that our culture also progresses. We need to look at family structures, how children are educated from an early age and how we can foster a culture of cooperation among all, especially between women and men, in all spheres of life.
The issue of the advancement of women has grown in importance in recent years as a new constitution and legal changes have instituted greater protection for women. Representatives of various groups – Christians, Muslims, Jews and indigenous Amazigh people – contributed to the conversation, stressing that coexistence is only possible when women are able to fully participate in the life of society.
“The oppression of women exists in all areas,” said Sahar Dely, director of an Amazigh cultural organization. “The oppressive constraints are linked to other issues such as religious, racial and cultural differences.”
Ms Dely described the stereotypes in society that excuse violence against women and spoke of the achievements that become possible for women when attitudes towards them change, citing stories of women leaders from the past, including Tahirih , a Bahá’í heroine and champion of the emancipation of women. . “Today we need to address cultural issues before legal changes can be made. If nothing is changed in the collective imagination of Tunisians, the role of women in society will not be transformed.
A short film inspired by Baha’u’llah’s teachings on the principle of equality of women and men was also screened at the gathering. The film, produced by the Tunisian Baha’i community as a contribution to the discourse on the advancement of women, tells the story of Tahirih as well as decades of struggle for social progress in the country.