AFRICA/TUNISIA - Archbishop Antoniazzi: the appointment of a woman as prime minister is not just an "image campaign"

Friday, 1 October 2021 politics   international politics   middle east   women   political islam  

Tunis (Agenzia Fides) - An "image campaign"? Well, it depends on how you look at it ... ", said Archbishop Ilario Antoniazzi, at the head of the Catholic Archdiocese of Tunis, referring to comments and analysis of the western media, which tend to support the decision of the Tunisian President Kaïs Saïed to appoint Professor Najla Bouden Romdhane as head of the new government, the first woman called to lead the government team in an Arab Country. "First of all" - the Archbishop points out in a conversation with Fides - "we have to take into account the fact that here in Tunisia women have a meaning in social life that does not exist in other Arab countries. Just remember that the basis of the famous 'Jasmine Revolution' were women. In which Arab country is the mayor of the capital a woman? But here in Tunis, and also in about forty other Tunisian cities, there is a woman mayor. And it may be a minor thing, but on the 10 dinar coin there is the effigy of a woman, the first Tunisian female doctor".
Tunisia, despite being a small country - says the Archbishop - "is a pilot country in many ways. And speaking of pilots, I have traveled many times with western airlines and have never seen female pilots on airplanes. On the other hand, it is normal to see women as pilots or co-pilots on Tunisian aircraft. In light of all this - continued Antoniazzi - the excessive attention the international media is devoting to the high political office of the Tunisian professor is perhaps inappropriate. But attempts to reduce the political choice made by the Tunisian President to a pure image-related operation is also inappropriate". "It is true" admits the Archbishop of Tunis "that Saïed might need some 'vitamins' to increase consensus with him after this period of political and institutional void in which the criticism that accused him of authoritarianism , began to grow, but I think it is too short-sighted to reduce his choice to a simple facade operation", given that the appointment of Najla as head of the national government" could pose a challenge to the president himself". At the end of July, Kaïs Saïed had "suspended" Parliament, dismissed the government and assumed full powers, accusing the leaders of the dominant political forces of having led the country to ruin. "I still believe", added Archbishop Antoniazzi "that the President showed courage in sending away so many corrupt people who have stolen resources without doing anything for Tunisia. Not everyone agrees with him, but I think the majority of the population still supports him. Every week there are alternating demonstrations in support of the president and demonstrations against him. But it seems clear to me that the majority continue to support him. Now it remains to be seen whether the appointment of a woman as head of government in an Arab country is a positive and innovative experience that recognizes and affirms the role of women not only for Tunisian society but also for the Arab countries and the international community as a whole ". Najla Bouden Romdhane, born in Kairouan in 1958, is a geologist and earthquake expert and teaches as a professor at the National Engineering School in Tunis. Romdhane holds a PhD in geology from the Paris School of Mines in seismic engineering. In 2011 she was appointed General Manager in charge of Quality Control at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. Before being appointed head of the Tunisian government, Najla Bouden Romdhane was program coordinator at the World Bank as an internal project manager and at the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research. (GV) (Agenzia Fides, 1/10/2021)