Tunisia's legacy of “state feminism” and its strong civil society—including human rights, labor, and women's rights organizations—have placed Tunisian women in advance of their Arab sisters, and women are present across an array of professions and occupations. Still, most Tunisian women remain outside the labor force, face precarious forms of employment, or are unemployed. This article examines women's employment patterns, problems, and prospects in the light of an untoward economic environment, conservative social norms, and feminist advocacy. Drawing on interview and documentary data, and informed by feminist political economy and institutionalism, it highlights the importance of institutional supports for working mothers and improved work conditions to encourage more female economic participation and stronger labor-force attachment and thus to weaken patriarchal attitudes and values. The paper points to the need for both class-based and gender-based policies with respect to women's economic participation and rights.

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