Souad Abderrahim is first woman to be elected mayor of Tunis
Souad Abderrahim, a 53-year-old pharmaceutical company manager has made history by becoming the first woman mayor of Tunis, the capital of Tunisia.
She defeated Kamel Idir, a candidate of the Nidaa Tounes party founded by Tunisian President Beji Caid Essebsi, after she gaining 26 votes while her closest opponent received 22 votes in a Tuesday’s election between municipal councilors.
Abderrahim who first won 33.8 percent of votes during municipal elections in early May, had to gather the support of municipal councilors and she was able to receive backing from 26 councilors from Islamist Ennahda party, a moderate Muslim party that advocates for separating religion and politics.
On making history, Souad Abderrahim said: “We have chosen transparency as a slogan.”
“We want to give the Tunisian woman her rights, the woman whose progressive image we’re always trying to sell. We’re always saying that the Tunisian woman is able to take on any job and that the Tunisian woman is an activist and is on the front lines.
“I consider this a source of pride for the Tunisian woman,” she added. “To become the first female sheikh of Tunis can only be recorded as Tunisia making history on this front.”
Souad Abderrahim is a native of Métouia. She studied at the Lycée Khaznadar in the suburbs of Tunis. She began to campaign and meet with activists such as Ajmi Lourimi who later became a member of Ennahdha’s political bureau. Souad Abderrahim was also a member of the executive Board of the Tunisian General Union of Students (UGTE).
She was imprisoned for 15 days in 1985 because of her militant involvement while she tried to calm a violent quarrel between students. She did not start political activity until after the 14 January 2011 revolution.
Souad Abderrahim joined the Islamist party Ennahdha, following a meeting of the UGTE, which she presided and where party leaders were present. The political bureau of Ennahdha then contacted her to bring her into the party.
On 23 October 2011, she was elected to the Constituent Assembly, for Ennahdha representing of Tunis. She chairs the parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Freedoms.
On 9 November 2011, she declared in a debate on Monte Carlo Doualiya that freedoms must be “framed by customs, traditions and respect for good morals”; she illustrated her point by denouncing single mothers, “an infamy, a plague for Tunisian society”, which “should not aspire to a legal framework that protects their rights”. She was then dubbed “Souad Palin”, in reference to Sarah Palin.
In 2018, Souad Abderrahim was a candidate for Ennahdha at the City Council of Tunis in the municipal elections of 2018. On 3 July, she became the first woman to be elected mayor of Tunis.