The United Nations Working Group on discrimination against women in law and in practice visited Tunisia for its first official visit. The group began a five-day fact-finding mission on January 9, meeting with national and local authorities as well as civil society and religious groups.
At the conclusion of the fact-finding mission, the Working Group urged the National Constituent Assembly in its communiqué to adopt clear provisions on gender equality in draft constitution. Until then, temporary special decrees need to be passed in order to encourage women’s participation in all spheres of lives, asserted the UN group. The empowerment of women from long-marginalized regions in the interior was another point stressed in the communiqué.
Kamala Chandrakirana, head of the group’s expert panel, expressed concern with the “persistence of loopholes and ambiguities in the current draft of the constitution,” which endanger the prospect of gender equality in the future. The draft in question also fails to refer to the country’s binding international human rights obligations and does not provide for any gender-equality monitoring mechanism, she said.
In a separate statement issued on January 11, Amnesty International pointed as well to multiple instances of ambiguity in the draft document that it worries will threaten to undermine the status of women in Tunisia. Such unclear language not only discriminates against women but also establishes grounds for discrimination against non-citizens.
A report will be issued to cover the Working Group’s final conclusions at the UN Human Rights Council this June.