With the capital, Tunis, strategically located on the Mediterranean Sea, Tunisia has been a seat of power over the centuries to the Romans, Arabs, Ottoman Turks and French. Following independence from French rule in 1956, Tunisia has been governed by only two heads of state, President Bourguiba for three decades and President Ben Ali from 1987 until 2011. The October 2011 elections brought leadership responsible for drafting a new constitution. However the assassination of the opposition leader in July 2013 resulted in calls for the current government to resign.
Current political instability may contribute to a worsening of the already significant levels of poverty and unemployment, which reached 18% in 2012.1 The economy relies on agriculture and tourism, which is directly affected by perceptions of the safety of visitors. At year end 2013 the ruling and opposition parties agreed to appoint an acting prime minister responsible for selecting a Cabinet and preparing for new elections in the coming year.
Unemployment levels in Tunisia reached 18% in 2012
provides improved protection for all women's right
FROM TUNISIA: MEET THE ARTISAN
The studio of Le Souk Ceramique opened in 1997 in Nabeul, Tunisia. Each timeless design is created in the studio where the artisans do not use any machinery or decals. The artisans mix every color batch of food safe glazes by hand and freehand paint every detail, resulting in one-of-a-kind works. Le Souk sets wages above minimum wage, provides healthcare and social security payments for artisans, and is in process to receive Tunisia’s Fair Trade certification.
HUMAN RIGHTS SITUATION
Under the dictatorship that came to power in 1987, no political dissent was allowed. The government elected in 2011 has addressed several critical human rights issues and progress is being made on key human rights fronts including freedom of assembly, freedom of expression, and freedom of association. Tunisia has also avoided extreme retaliation against former rulers and the country's military remains under civilian control. 3 Human rights efforts must continue in the areas of independent judiciary, freedom of the press, and investigation of police use of excessive force.
During the leadership in place from 1956 until 1987, women's rights became among the most advanced in the Arab world, with women pursuing professions in fields including government, medicine, and education. 5 In the 2011 elections 4,000 women ran for office, although only 49 were elected to the new Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting the constitution and guiding the transitional government.6 The future of women's rights in Tunisia (including rights related to divorce, inheritance and public dress) will depend on political groups gain power in the emerging government, with some seeking to roll back progress made to date and others striving to protect rights in place.