04 January 2019

"We are a hundred years behind"

The Tunisian parliament is to consider a bill recently agreed by the cabinet that would grant equal inheritance rights to men and women – a proposal that has created a furore not only in Tunisia, but throughout the Middle East. Egyptian writer and activist Nawal El Saadawi describes the move as "positive" and believes that Egypt may finally be following in Tunisia's footsteps. Interview by Imane Mellouk.

El Saadawi: It's a very positive development and defintely something that every Arab country should adopt. There must be full equality between women and men in this Arab and Islamic world of ours. These days such equality exists in many countries, while we in the Arab world still lag far behind.

.... El Saadawi: In Tunisia, the laws are ahead of the reality for ordinary women. I've visited Tunisia several times in the past. The law is ahead of the actual status of women in society today. In situations where the political leadership is bold, like under Essebsi, and endorses progressive laws, as Bourguiba did, while the social, political, religious and cultural situation remains unchanged, we find the law to be progressive.

However, neither women nor even the government are able to apply such progressive laws in practice. We therefore need a cultural, political and intellectual renaissance to strike the monster and the merchants of religion. [Qantara.de] Read more