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Women’s rights central to the new Tunisia

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Summary of story from womensenews, November 4, 2011

Following the recent elections in Tunisia, the world is watching as the country draws up a new constitution and forms a government.

But there is another all-important bellwether that bears special attention – the ability of educated women to help forge a stable, advanced democracy that preserves and promotes their civil rights.

In Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, the status of women is by numerous measures the highest in the Arab World.

There is no evidence of the widespread “son preference” which leads to the abortion of female fetuses through Asia and elsewhere. And virtually all Tunisian girls go to school and enjoy a literacy rate roughly on par with men.

A majority of Tunisian women are urbanites, living in homes with modern sanitation and household conveniences. In old age, a Tunisian woman can expect, statistically, to live to 77, five years longer than the world average and 21 years longer than her counterpart in Sub-Saharan Africa.

But there are concerns that, with the election resulting in a majority vote for Ennahda, which has been described as a moderate Islamic party that has pledged to uphold women’s rights, the party will act differently once in power (see WVoN story).

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