Tunisia has always led gender equality in the Middle East for the past fifty years, with women playing an active role in civil society and enjoying the same legal rights as men. Now, with the old regime overthrown this past spring, many Tunisians are concerned that Al-Nahda, a more conservative Islamic party, will come to power and pull the nation back into the past.
Al-Nahda wants Islam become more integrated into national policy, reopening the long-suppressed debate over polygamy and arguing that women should stay at home to improve the national unemployment rate. Other Tunisians like Ahlem Belhaj, president of the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, want to separate politics and religion, asserting that freedom for women is directly linked to democracy. The upcoming October 23 election will decide if women's rights are written into the new constitution.
Sign this petition to stand with Ahlem Belhaj and other activists working to stem the tide of Islamic conservatism and ensure freedom and security for future generations of Tunisian women.
Dear Ms. Belhaj,
I am writing to show my enduring support for the women of Tunisia during this time of political and social upheaval. What you and your organization are working towards, in the face of such opposition, is admirable and is your nation's only hope.
It is imperative in these delicate, historical times to overwhelm those who support a greater fusion of religion and politics. Drowning out secularism in public life will pull Tunisia back into the past, no matter what Al-Nahda's Rachid Ghannouchi says about promoting a moderate, pro-democratic Islamic form of government. Tunisia has been a bastion of gender equality for over five decades, and the possibility that women's legal freedoms could be revoked in the wake of this past spring's uprisings is nightmarish.
We stand by the Tunisian Association of Democratic Women in its fight to defend women's rights, promote the participation of women in civic and political life, fight sexual descrimination, and transform patriarchal attitudes.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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