Women in Democratic Sustainability

This initiative reflects Demos Tunisia’s emphasis on the necessity of broadening and deepening the political and civic presence of the entire demos in Tunisia and the broader Arab region. Women’s participation in public life is a significant marker of inclusiveness and civic-political equality vital to democratic sustainability. The sustainability of democracy necessitates the capacity to reproduce the values, orientations, and practices amenable to women’s inclusion, among other benchmarks. Yet both state feminism and women’s bottom-up activism in authoritarian settings suggest that women’s representation in the formal institutions of government does not tell the full story of their public engagement. Understanding, critiquing, and encouraging women’s varied awareness of and involvement in civic and public life remains imperative in Tunisia and the Arab region.

The Women in Democratic Sustainability Program seeks through documentation and analysis to build a repository of women’s gendered experiences in civic and public life. The compiled narratives from the locale will be amenable to case specific as well as comparative analysis by researchers and academics, gender advocates, civil society activists, development specialists, and relevant policymakers in and outside the Arab region. 

Hence, the stress is on localized, contextualized knowledge by and about women in civics and politics, with attention to historical, cultural-religious, socio-economic and factors relevant to Tunisia and other Arab settings. The program will chart the trajectory of women’s civic and political participation and positioning especially particularly since the 2011 revolutions and uprisings, paying attention to progress and regressions. The ultimate aim is to enhance women’s participation and leadership in public life.

Through webinars, seminars, workshops, training, storytelling, research reports, and policy papers, the Women in Democratic Sustainability initiative will attempt to portray actually existing women’s encounters with democracy. It will further suggest avenues and strategies for improving it both quantitatively and qualitatively.

To this end, the program seeks to:

To this end, the program seeks to:

·       Identify challenges facing diverse women’s involvement in civic and public life;

·       Understand how women’s activism and political participation relate to other challenges relevant to democratic sustainability, such as regional inequality, development, social and transitional justice, education, conflict, etc.;

·       Compare gendered experiences of Tunisian and Arab women’s participation and leadership in formal and informal political spaces;

·       Chart women’s transnational activism, for gender equality and for democracy, within the Arab region and beyond;

·       Comparatively assess women’s specific needs, demands, and political inputs in settings of authoritarianism and/or conflict;

·       Critically engage with international policy discourses and programs relating to gender-based violence, the Women, Peace, and Security Agenda, etc.; and

·       Consider academic and practical/policy experiences and possibilities for cross-regional allyship and coalitional work among civil society activists, academics, and policymakers to promote women’s substantive civic-political participation and leadership