Monday, May 21, 2018

Tunisia’s First Woman Party Leader Dies
Maya Jribi cofounded secular liberal political party

19:54 May 19, 2018
Gulf News
Habib Toumi, Bureau Chief

Manama: Maya Jribi, a Tunisian politician who was one of the first women to lead a political party in the Arab world, died Saturday afternoon.

Born in 1960 to a Tunisian father and an Algerian mother, Maya engaged in political activism within the students’ union when she was a biology student at a university in Sfax, Tunisia’s second largest city, 260 kilometres south of the capital Tunis.

She joined the Tunisian League of Human Rights and penned several articles in Al Rai weekly newspaper.

Maya was a member of a study group looking into the status of women and her social activism promoted her to join an anti-cancer society and to form an association for studies about women and development.

In 1983, she contributed, alongside Ahmad Nejib Chebbi, to establishing the Progressive Socialist Rally, a secular liberal political party. When she became member of its politburo in 1986, she was one of the rare women to hold an advanced position within the party.

The party gained legal recognition in 1988 and was renamed the Progressive Democratic Party (PDP) in 2001.

In 2006, she was elected as the head of the PDP, succeeding Chebbi and becoming the first woman in Tunisia to lead a national political party.

On October 23, 2011, she was elected to the parliament representing a district in Ben Arous, in the southern suburbs of Tunis.

While she achieved a comfortable majority, her party fared poorly, prompting anger and dismay.

“We will look carefully into the reasons for this failure and will analyse them,” Maya then told Gulf News. “We do appreciate however the massive participation of the people in the elections and which exceeded all expectations.”

Affected by disease, Maya announced her retirement during the party convention in 2017.

Social media in Tunisia were filled with expression of condolences and sympathies for her family.

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