Ahlam, Najah and Intidhar are three women who live in Boucha, one of the villages in North East Tunisia. They have been challenging social norms and marginalisation when they decided to run for municipal elections in 2016 in case it was organised.
After participating in activities supported by the AMAL programme, Ahlam feels that she is now aware of her rights and responsibilities as a woman and a mother of two children. She refuses that her role is restricted to housework only. “My decision to run for the municipal council is an honest desire to work for Boucha so that I provide better conditions for children, and ensure they have access to services which my generation was deprived of when we were young. I want children to go to school without having to walk distances under the rain on unpaved roads, or having to stay home in the winter.”
AMAL programme supports women leaders residing in poor and marginalized rural areas. In Tunisia, it is implemented in partnership with 3 local organisations, one of which is the Ligue des Electrices Tunisiennes. With this support, women realised they were capable of changing their living conditions. Najah decided to challenge the prevalent mindset that leads to marginalisation of women and restricts their role to the household level. “I had to leave school to work and earn money for my family when my father fell ill. My difficult circumstances did not stop me from being engaged in development associations despite the dominant male mentality, which I intend to change by running for the municipal council. We are fed up with promises of officials that make no change; I am facing all the mentalities rejecting women’s political participation.”
Under the programme, women received training on planning election campaigns, communicating with voters and on dialogue skills. This has enabled Intidhar to improve her capacity to motivate especially young women to take action and change their lives. Being a university graduate, she is concerned with the deterioration of education conditions in her village; she had always dreamt of changing this situation by becoming a teacher but wasn’t able to make it a reality. “I will run for the municipal council to enhance the education system and give children better opportunities.”
AMAL – which means hope in Arabic – supports women’s transformative leadership in Morocco, Tunisia, Yemen and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The programme works with partner organisations to enable women from poor communities to strengthen their confidence, knowledge of their rights and their campaigning and advocacy skills. The aim is for these women to become leaders who can work with their communities reclaim their right to political and civic participation and achieve long lasting positive change.
The above is a short version of a story developed by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights under the partnership with OXFAM on the Time for Women to Lead Campaign
To learn more about the AMAL programme, click here.
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