By Oumaima Hammami, Association Tunisienne des femmes démocrates (Tunisian Association of Democratic Women)
On 29th September 2020, at the Hôtel El Mechtel, Tunis, The Association Tunisienne des femmes démocrates (Tunisian Association of Democratic Women, or ATFD) teamed up with the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) to stage "Towards another possible Tunisia", a national conversation on economic policies in Tunisia. The event presented an opportunity to discuss possible alternative solutions aimed at promoting public services, particularly relating to health, education and public finance, as well as women's economic rights. These could be achieved by restoring the role of the state as a political and socio-economic player, able to guarantee the rights of vulnerable sectors of the population.
Ten years after the Tunisian revolution, Tunisia has achieved significant political reform, but the state has neglected the economic and social rights of its citizens. The participants analysed this neglect with reference to the current state of affairs. Despite the growth in funds allocated to development in the state budget, the rate of job creation remains slow. This has had a negative impact on the most basic socio-economic rights, such as education, health and housing.
The construction of a new Tunisia will be achieved first and foremost through the establishment of public education with a global outlook, the development of a health system which guarantees equal access for all and the establishment of absolute and effective equality. The latter will mainly be achieved through the establishment of equal inheritance rights.
The event's overall conclusions stress the importance of creating a new, ten-year development model based on a participative, inclusive, civic approach which encourages the exchange of points of view and experiences between the different stakeholders, particularly from Tunisian civil society, in order to find other alternative development solutions.
Despite the Covid-19 health crisis, which presents a major obstacle to the dialogue, the ATFD managed to gather the various stakeholders of Tunisian civil society, while observing strict health regulations.
Thanks to this event, civil society organisations were able to set out a detailed account of the state of socio-economic rights in Tunisia. The attendees representing Tunisian civil society organisations emphasised their key role in the establishment of a "humane" economic model and in setting out the economic priorities of vulnerable populations in order to build an advocacy campaign for legislative reform in line with international standards.