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Obituary: Maya Jribi, Tunisia’s first woman party leader, dies

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Maya Jribi, Tunisia’s first woman to lead a political party, had passed away on Saturday at the age of 58.

Jribi is considered among many as one of the fiercest and most famous Tunisian woman who strongly opposed the regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali and stood up to tyrannical policies throughout his reign.

Jribi, who was born in 1960 from a Tunisian father and an Algerian mother, entered politics early on in her life through her father, the Tunisian leader Saleh Ben Youssef against Habib Bourguiba during independence in 1956. Early on, she w fought to raise awareness of women and defend their rights.

From 2006 to 2012, she was the leader of the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The PDP merged into the Republican Party in April 2012 and she led the party until her resignation in 2017.

Once described as Tunisia’s “Iron Lady”, Jribi went head-to-head against the Ben Ali regime, where she was one of the few women who strongly opposed his policies and way of running the state. She had led many protest movements to denounce the dictatorship of Ben Ali against his opponents.

For 20 days in October 2007, Jribi went on a hunger strike to protest against the forced move of her party's headquarters from the capital Tunis, causing her serious health implications later on.

After the events of the Tunisian revolution and the fall of the Ben Ali regime that year, she led her party in the elections of the Tunisian National Constituent Assembly and was elected a member of the Council where she left her mark in playing a role in drafting of the new Tunisian constitution.