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Celebrating Women’s Equality Day from the United States to Tunisia

August 29, 2013 by Brooke Jenkins

Women like Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Alice Paul and many more fought to make their voices heard in a suffrage movement that lasted more than 75 years. The culmination of their efforts resulted in the passing of the 19th Amendment on August 26, 1920, which gave women in the United States the right to vote. Today, we celebrate these women and honor them with our continued commitment to the empowerment of women everywhere.  Their example has inspired movements across the globe and millions of women who continue to fight for equality. While women today enjoy the right to vote in nearly every country, in some nations they still struggle to ensure their voices, and their votes, are heard. In one such country, a revolution brought about political and social changes, much like the suffrage movement.

In 2010, the Tunisian people raised their voices and cried out against an oppressive government. Women stood side-by-side with men in the fight for democracy and demanded their freedom. The country’s first free elections were held in October of 2011 with over 90 percent of registered voters, nearly 4.5 million citizens, turning out to vote, many for the first time in their lives.  Charity Wallace, Director of the Women’s Initiative at the Bush Institute, had the opportunity to observe the election (full story here), and highlights one such voter’s enthusiasm and determination:

“At a very rural polling station, I witnessed one woman who found that she was not registered at that polling station and was told she had to travel to a different one to vote, although it was not clear which one.  For most Americans, that would dissuade them from voting, but for this poor, elderly woman, she was not deterred.  About thirty minutes later, our team saw her in a small town, Amdoun, approximately 10 kilometers from the initial polling station in which we had seen her earlier.  She approached us to ask where she was supposed to vote.  We directed her to the election officials to help her find the station.  I was struck by her tenacity, her resolve and her desire to make sure she was part of history … that her voice was heard on this historic day.”

Today, the Bush Institute is pleased to announce the Women’s Initiative Fellowship program is expanding to Tunisia in 2014.  We are inspired by the passion and determination of the Tunisian women and know they will make a lasting impact on the future of their country.  Women have been an incredible force in the march to democracy.  By investing in these women, we hope to ensure their continued participation in the development of their new government and increased leadership in the political, business and legal sectors.   

For more information on the Women’s Initiative Fellowship, please click here