Guest post (English and French versions) by Dalel Krichen, Honorary President of the Assosiation of Majida Boulila for Modernity (AMBM) and WES trainer. Dalel is a civil engineer and graduated from Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri. She is actively involved with civil society organizations and has championed the cause of women’s empowerment and political participation. She is married and mother of two daughters.
The Jasmine Revolution in Tunisia was not only a revolution against dictatorship, corruption and disparities between regions, but it was also fundamentally a yearning to build a society based upon the values of modernity and citizenship.
Thus, we witnessed a blossoming of non-governmental organizations and citizen initiatives aiming to build a country where everyone has the responsibility to participate in the rooting of the universal values of justice and freedom in society without any form of discrimination or exclusion.
In this context, and regarding women’s rights, I would like to highlight the fact that although Tunisian women have enjoyed a privileged legal status since 1956 (leader in the Arab world), their presence in the political and public sphere has been quite shy and falls short of our expectations.
Indeed, in 2012, only one in four women were active in the national labor market, and the unemployment rate for women was 26.9% in 2012, one of the highest in the world. Paradoxically, girls represent 60% of all university students and graduate at much higher rates with a much higher number of laureates.
Seeing that the economic independence of women is vital to the full control of their lives, the Association of Majida Boulila for Modernity (AMBM) has set on top of its priorities the economic empowerment of women and their integration into the labor market.
For AMBM, the Women’s Enterprise for Sustainability (WES) program was more than an opportunity, it was a dream. The dream of enhancing women’s initiatives, boosting women who dare to be entrepreneurs, reinforcing their capacities to manage their businesses through targeted training on administrative, financial and marketing techniques, as well as personalized assistance to help them set up sustainable businesses. This has opened new horizons and opportunities for women.
Creating your own business is often a lonely journey strewn with pitfalls. Feeling secure, supported, comforted, and encouraged to brave the difficulties, equipped with the appropriate tools and accompanied in this process makes the difference.
Today, seven months after the launching of WES, it is glorifying to see many WES AMBM graduates managing their own businesses and seizing every opportunity to develop their knowledge and skills to increase their chances of success.
The WES Network, established to create a platform for connecting WES graduates, continues to play a major role in building relationships and facilitating mutual assistance. It is encouraging to witness the beneficial partnerships created among the WES graduates at AMBM.
It was also a moment of pure pleasure for us to see our WES graduates present themselves as budding entrepreneurs during the Fair of Creators recently held in Sfax. The success of these entrepreneurs is for us a source of pride and motivation to move forward and expand the initiatives to meet the challenges and to fulfill the objectives of this project.
I warmly thank the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), the Institute of International Education (IIE) and the Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI) for partnering with us to implement the WES program. I thank them even more for providing new opportunities for Tunisian women at a time when women are expected to play a key role in strengthening the economy and actively participating in the process of democratic transition.
To conclude, I would like to share, with all of you, a big moment of the program. This was after a training that I facilitated for young graduates in a disadvantaged, remote region of Sfax. I received a message on my Facebook Page which said, “please help me create my own enterprise.” That day I realized the impact that this program could have on these young people who are struggling every day to fulfill their dreams. That day, I realized that WES was more than a program, it is for many the only prospect for a better life.
La révolution du 14 Janvier qu’a connu la Tunisie est certes une révolution contre la dictature, la corruption et l’inégalité régionale, mais elle est aussi fondamentalement une aspiration à construire une société fondée sur les valeurs de la modernité et de la citoyenneté.
C’est ainsi qu’on a assisté à une floraison d’associations non gouvernementales et d’initiatives citoyennes pour participer à l’édifice d’une Tunisie où tout un chacun aura la responsabilité d’enraciner dans la société les valeurs universelles de la justice et de la liberté dans la dignité sans aucune discrimination ou marginalisation.
Dans ce contexte, force est de constater que la femme tunisienne qui est réputée pour avoir bénéficié d’un statut juridique privilégié depuis 1956 ( leader dans le monde arabe), est sous-représentée dans la sphère politique et publique.
En effet, en 2012, seulement une femme sur quatre était active sur le marché du travail. Par ailleurs, le taux de chômage des femmes a atteint en cette même année, 26.9%, un des taux les plus élevés au monde. Paradoxalement, les filles représentent 60% du total des étudiants à l’université et le nombre des lauréates dépasse largement celui des lauréats.
L’association MajidaBoulila Pour La Modernité, consciente que l’indépendance économique de la femme est vitale pour qu’elle puisse avoir le contrôle total de sa vie ,s’est fixée comme priorité l’insertion de la femme dans le marché de travail. Continue reading