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Title: Politics of parity : gendering the Tunisian Second Republic, 2011-2014
Author: Petkanas, Zoe
ISNI:       0000 0004 7230 6877
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This dissertation explores the role of female political actors in the gendered rebuilding of Tunisia’s post-Ben Ali political infrastructure and how gender both informed and featured in the early stages of the democratic transition. Drawing on thirteen months of fieldwork and over 300 hours of interviews, it narrates a yet untold story of the transformation of female political actors from object to subject of the state. In the post-revolutionary political terrain, gender and women’s rights were imbued with broader discursive significance, becoming a vehicle through which to distinguish two broad political categories of Islamism and secularism, which showcased continuity with the historical deployment of gender in pre-independence and post-colonial authoritarian contexts. However, analysis of the development of gender parity legislation from its introduction in the interim electoral law in advance of the 2011 elections, through the constitutional and electoral law drafting processes, and its implementation in the 2014 elections, reveals the inadequacy of gender as a metaphor for broad political characterisations and the fluidity of the Tunisian political terrain as seen through a gendered lens. It was only through the collaborative work of female political actors across the ideological spectrum within the National Constituent Assembly that the foundational texts of the Second Republic were gendered, acknowledging and addressing the ways that the lived experiences of women, as socially and historically constituted subjects, can mediate access to rights. By virtue of this process, these female deputies, whose own subjectivities were transformed through interaction with male-dominated political institutions, enacted and embodied new modes of the female citizen as subject. Finally, in tracing the development of the gender parity laws through the formative years of Tunisian democracy, this dissertation illuminates the ways in which access to newly democratised political power remains gendered, mediated through the complex interplay between larger political, social, and economic structures.
Supervisor: Joffe, George Sponsor: Cambridge Commonwealth ; European ; and International Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Tunisia ; Gender ; North Africa ; Arab Spring ; Elections ; Parity ; Gender Quotas ; Constitution ; Women's Rights