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Tunisia MPs back equal opportunity for women in public life

Tunisia adopted a secular constitution at independence in 1956 that gave women far greater rights than anywhere else in the Arab world

Published: Updated:

Tunisia's constituent assembly on Thursday approved an article that would enshrine equality of opportunity between the sexes in public life and aim for equality of representation in elected bodies.

The article, which was backed by a narrow majority on a line by line vote, has to go before the assembly again later this month when the whole text will be put to the vote.

If the text does not win a two-thirds majority in that vote, it will be put to a referendum.

Article 45 provides that "the state guarantees equality of opportunity between men and women in public office. The state seeks to ensure numerical parity between men and women in elected bodies."

It was passed with the support of half of the 89 delegates of the Islamist Ennahda party which led the government until the resignation of prime minister Ali Larayedh on Thursday, vote monitors said.

The assembly already passed an article last week that enshrines gender equality.

Tunisia adopted a secular constitution at independence in 1956 that gave women far greater rights than anywhere else in the Arab world.

There had been fears among secular politicians, which Ennahda has been at pains to disprove, that it would seek to roll back those rights.