International Women's Day in Tunisian Blogs

Tunisia celebrates its National Day for Women on August 13. Calls are now being echoed in the blogosphere to join international women in their celebration and mark the day with the rest of the world on March 8.

The August 13 date marks the day the Code of Personal Status was enacted by former President Habib Bourguiba in 1956 – a milestone piece of legislation which abolished polygamy, instituted legal divorce and set the minimum age for marriage at 17 for women. To see this, we think that Tunisian women are privileged and benefit fully from her rights and freedom. However, everyday life is different. Some bloggers talked about this fact on the International Women’s Day.

Blogger Abu Nadhem proposed to combine the two days in one day and thus integrate the women’s movement in Tunisia with the international one. Indeed, he says in the blog Ya tounes :

واليوم على مشارف القرن 21 و تونس تعتبر سباقة عربيا في الاعتراف بحقوق المراة بوضع مجلة الاحوال الشخصية فإن الزعيم بورقيبة اختار مع ذلك يوم 13 اوت يوما وطنيا للمراة ولا نعلم مع ذلك سبب تجاهل 8 مارس ؟؟؟ فهل ان الاوان للاعتراف ب 8 مارس يوما وطنيا ودوليا للمراة ؟؟بجعل المراة التونسية جزءا من الحركة النسوية العالمية ؟؟؟؟؟؟

Today, in the 21st century, Tunisia is considered as the pioneering Arab country in the recognition of the women’s rights through its Code of Personal Status. The former president Bourguiba chose August 13 as the national day of women, however, we do not know the reason for ignoring the March 8th International Women’s Day??? When will we recognize March 8th as both a national and international day so that Tunisian women will be part of the global women's movement ??????

As this year's International Day of Women's coincided with Prophet Mohammed's birthday, a popular celebration in the Tunisian calendar, some bloggers linked two occasions in their posts. Neji khachnaoui, for instance, wrote the following:

مرحى لنا بالقيروان عاصمة اسلامية وليست عاصمة للثقافة الاسلامية
مرحى لنا بشيخ يفتي ان المرأة سنة 2009 تُطلق بلسان رجلها
مرحى لنا بمجلة الأحول الشخصية تتقهقر أرضا
مرحى لنا ببلاد نصفها رجال والنصف الآخر ذكور
مرحى لنا بنساء يحتفلن بيوم حريتهن بالعصيدة والزقوقو
مرحى لنا بهذه الشيزوفرينا المؤسسة لجمهورية الغد
Let’s congratulate ourselves now that Kairouan has been announced as an Islamic capital instead of a capital for Islamic culture.
Let’s be happy with a Sheikh [clergyman] has annpunced in 2009 that a man can divorce his wife just by telling her: “I divorce you.”
Let’s be happy with the Code of Personal Status further disintegrating, day after day.
Let’s be happy with a country whose population is half male, and the remaining half is also male.
Let’s be happy with women celebrating their freedom day by preparing Assida [Tunisians celebrate Prophet's birthday by cooking Assida zgougou, a local delicacy].
Let’s be happy with this schizophrenia that we will use to establish tomorrow’s republic.

As usual, blogger Tunisian debate choose caricatures to express his opinions and he linked this occasion to both Ammar 404, the symbol of censorship in Tunisia and the prophet’s birthday, and here are the pictures:

Caricature 1

Caricature 2

عمار ايجى ذوق العصيدة
Ammar come taste the Assida

What is striking is that the majority of bloggers who blogged about women’s day are men, with only two women blogging about this occasion. l’As Number One wrote in Tunisian dialect saying:

نبهت في التناقض الكبير بين افكار مواليد الاربعينات و الخمسينات و بين أفكار جيلي. اذا كانو الاولانين يعتبرو اللي عمل و دراسة المرأة حاجات اساسيّة يضمنو كرامةالمرا.
نحب نقول اللي الاكثريّة متاع شبابنا (ذكور و اناث)، ماهوش واعي بقيمة مجلة الاحوال الشخصية. و فمّا حتّى شكون يستنكرها ويطالب بالرجوع للوراء (الرجوع للأصل فضيلة)
الغريبة الكبيرة كيف تجيك ملاحظة كيف هاذي من عند فتاة و فتاة قارية الي أكبر طموحها تاخو راجل لاباس عليه باش اتشد الدار و هو يصرف عليها

I am alarmed by the great discrepancy between the mentality of people born in the forties and fifties and that of my generation.The first group see women’s education and work as essential components to guarantee women’s dignity. But I want to say that the majority of our youth (men and women alike) are not aware of the value of the Code of the Personal Status. Some of them denounce it and ask us to go backwards (going back to the roots is a virtue). What is flabbergasting is that such calls come from young educated women, whose greatest ambition is marrying a rich man and staying at home, while he spends on her.

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