EU welcomes Tunisia's vote gender parity
(BRUSSELS) - The European Union welcomed Thursday Tunisia's decision to ensure that equal numbers of men and women feature as candidates for July's elections, saying it was a beacon for the region.
A commission planning the constituent assembly vote, a key step after January's ouster of the previous president, decided this week on gender parity among candidates in a system of proportional representation.
Rights groups have welcomed the move as a first in the Arab world. The names of men and women candidates will figure in alternate places on the lists put to voters.
"It demonstrates that Tunisia intends to ensure full participation of women in political life," EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.
"By putting these principles at the heart of all ongoing political reforms, Tunisia can be a beacon of innovation for the region and beyond," she said.
Women played a key role in the December-January uprising that led to the toppling of veteran leader Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, Ashton said.
"Now Tunisia has the opportunity to further consolidate gender equality and end all forms of discrimination against women in law and in practice."
On July 24, Tunisians will vote for a national constituent assembly that will develop a new constitution for the north African country.