In a speech marking Women’s Day in Tunisia, President Beji Caid Essebsi announced that he will submit a bill to parliament, that aims to give women equal inheritance rights with men. “I propose equality inheritance to become law,” President Beji Caid Essebsi said in his speech, stressing that the country’s secular constitution assured equality between all citizens. He said he will submit the bill "as soon as possible", probably when parliament resumes in October.
Essebsi said that his decision is based on Article 2 of the country’s Constitution that was adopted in 2014 after the Arab Spring revolution, which stipulates that “Tunisia is a civil state based on citizenship, the will of the people and the supremacy of law”.
Thousands of women and men rallied in central Tunis on August 13 in support of President Beji Caid Essebsi's call to give women equal inheritance rights. On the other hand, thousands of religious conservatives protested against the proposed reforms in front of Tunisia's parliament.
Protesters in Tunisia demanding equal inheritance rights for women, Tunisia, August 13, 2018.
The current system, which is based on Islamic Shariah law, grants women only half the inheritance given to men. Tunisia would be the first country in the Arab world to instate equal inheritance.
Tunisia is considered as a pioneer for women's rights in the Arab world, and number of decisions have justified that title such as the adoption of the 1956 Personal Status Code, one of the most progressive civil codes in the region, which banned polygamy, the adoption of a law on violence against women and girls including domestic violence, the abolition of a clause allowing rapists to escape any punishment if they married their victims and the repeal of the marriage restriction decree that prohibited Muslim women from marrying non-Muslim men. Furthermore, Tunisia has the highest representation of women in Parliament compared to other Arab countries with 76 women MPs out of the overall 217 members.
Euromed Feminist Initiative IFE-EFI welcomes the newly proposed inheritance law in Tunisia and expresses its full solidarity with women’s rights, civil society and human rights activists, organizations and movements who have long campaigned for the abolition of the inheritance law to attain equal rights for women and to remove gender discrimination in law.
AFTURD's participation in a rally in Tunis to demand equal inheritance rights for women, Tunisia, August 13, 2018.