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Known for Being

The first female leader of a political party in Tunisia.

Major Accomplishments

Maya Jribi was the first female leader of a political party in Tunisia. She studied biology and geology at the University of Sfax, and while there, became politically active, joining the student union and the Tunisian League of Human Rights. After graduating, she began working for opposition newspapers, and in 1983, helped establish the secularist Progressive Social Rally, which was renamed as the Progressive Democratic Party. In 2006, Jribi took over as party leader.

She was an opposition figure during the long regimes of both Habib Bourguiba and Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali. Ben Ali was overthrown in early 2011 in an upheaval that began the wave of uprisings across the Middle East called the Arab Spring. After the revolution, in 2011, she was sent to parliament in the nation's first democratic election. She became a strong secular voice, leading protests against efforts to enshrine Islamic law in the new constitution and took part in the parliamentary debate that led to the adoption of the new constitution in 2014. The efforts of secular voices were successful, as the constitution guarantees freedom of religion and draws a line between politics and civil society.
Jribi became known throughout Tunisia and abroad, and was nicknamed "Maya the Bee" for her seeming ability to be everywhere at once, traveling constantly to demonstrations or meetings. She was a defender of women's rights, pushing for gender equality in the constitution and favoring quotas for women in politics and other fields.

Last modified: 01/09/2019

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