Former First Lady of Tunisia and Chairwoman of the Arab Women Organization
Hijri 1376-Present (AH); Common Era 1956-Present (CE)
Former First Lady of Tunisia, Leila Ben Ali is also an active humanitarian who chaired Arab Women Organisation and was the head of the Basma Association for the Promotion of the Disabled Employment. Ben Ali was not born into a position of privilege. She grew up among ten brothers and sisters in an impoverished neighborhood in Tunis and worked as a hairdresser before meeting Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali seeks to reinforce the status of women in Tunisia and actively campaigned for her husband's 5th reelection to a 5 year term to the Tunisian presidency. During her tenure as chairwoman of the Arab Women Organisation ,Tunisia boosted Arab joint action in the legislative and political areas, to further enhance women's status by grounding its action in a forward-looking and modernist vision that heeds the specifics of the Arab-Islamic identity and be open onto Humanity's universal gains. Although Ben Ali believes great strides have been made in improving the status of Tunisian women, she still believes that “More efforts are still needed to change attitudes and behaviours but the political will to promote them does exist.” The Arab Women's Organization, which Ben Ali chairs, brings together fifteen first ladies under the aegis of the Arab League and is now undergoing the prepator processes for a meeting in Tunis on “Promoting Arab Women in the Sustainable Development Process” in October 2010. The AWO, according to Ben Ali, has also called for an observatory of social and political legislation on women's condition and a convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against them, in association with the Arab League and the United Nations.