Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Tunisia's World Social Forum

From March 26-30, Tunisia played host to the World Social Forum and their focus on ‘dignity’. The slogan of dignity was inspired by Tunisia’s January 2011 revolution calling for affordable basic necessities, a more just and equitable society as well as the right to employment (Ryan, 2013). This is the first time that the forum has been held in an Arab nation and many are calling it a success as the “forum of a new generation.” The World Social Forum has been considered to be the alternative to World Economic Forum in Switzerland. Tunis was chosen to host the forum because of its relative stability when compared to Egypt, the organizer’s first choice.

It was estimated that nearly 50,000 people attended the four-day forum in Tunis to discuss social and economic problems around the world. Topics included climate change, migration, globalization and economic justice during the 1,000 workshops that were offered. The forum is based on the principles of participatory decision making and taking politics to the public sectors. Al Jazeera reports that before the revolution of January 2011, a meeting of the anti-globalization event in Tunisia would have been "unthinkable", said Mohamed Jmour, a leader of Belaid's left-wing Democratic Patriots' Movement party (World Social Forum Opens in Tunisian Capital, 2013).

The Women’s Assembly, hosted by the Dynamic Tunisian Women of the WSF, took place on Tuesday, March 26th. The meeting was intended to bring women together to “express our solidarity with all women in struggle and the rejection of unbridled capitalism and any model of development that objectifies us, marginalizes us, commits violence against us, abandons us to unemployment and precariousness, and excludes us from the centers of power and wealth” (Women's Rights, 2013). The women were expressing their desire to have their voices heard in fighting for another world. The women demanded universal, indivisible rights, freedom and dignity above all.

It’s important to recognize that Tunisia, even with their domestic debt issues, was chosen over Egypt to host the forum. This seems to be the world’s way of recognizing and approving the gradual progress made in the area. By allowing the forum to take place, Tunisia is recognizing the importance of public expression, issue dialogue and non-violent protest which should provide the Tunisian people with some hope that their progress will continue.
Works Cited
Ryan, Y. (2013, March 26). Tunisia World Social Forum to Blast Austerity. Retrieved from Al Jazeera:
Women's Rights. (2013, March). Retrieved from World Social Forum 2013:
World Social Forum Opens in Tunisian Capital. (2013, March 26). Retrieved from Al Jazeera:



  1. I really like this story. It is interesting that Tunisia seems to lead the trends in this region. As we know Tunisia started the Arab Spring when they ousted Ben Ali and gave hope to Egyptians to do the same in their country. Now this World Social Forum seems to be another step in the right direction. The fact that Tunisia was chosen for the event over Egypt shows that the government in Tunisia is better and more stable than the one in Egypt, even though we did see issues in Tunisia after the political assassination of the opposition leader Chokri Belaid earlier in the year that provoked Tunisia’s prime minister Hamadi Jebali to step down Feburary 20th, 2013. Still, I think Tunisia is a small country with a big voice and stories like this bring my hopes up for the region as a whole.

  2. I agree with Jeremy that this story gives me hope. I especially keyed in on the Women's Assembly and the ability of these very brave and strong women to voice their struggle. I like what Jeremy said about Tunisia being a trend setter within the region and I really hope that these Women's Assemblies continue. I believe that the only way you will see a revolutionized, democratic Middle East is if women become respected as equals to men. The fact that so many Middle Eastern countries violate their women's basic human rights such as education, or even the ability to drive (Saudi Arabia) suggests a deeply rooted cultural intolerance. Hopefully with more and more courageous young women putting on assemblies like this it will spark a regional movement by all women. Tunisia will hopefully emerge as a democratic state that allows these women a platform to stand on and be heard.

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