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The experience provided Ben Said with a window into the lives of the women she was helping, but also a crucial insight: the women she was working with didn’t just need charity, but a change in the social and legal environment in which they were living. “So we have to work with politicians.” Over the last two years, Aswat Nissa has organized courses for women politicians, including several from Ennahda, training them in the basics of politics and governing.
“She’s an example of the modern Tunisian woman I’d like to follow: courageous, hard working, professional and also sweet,” says Ahlem Saidani Gharbi, a member of Ennahda. I respect her neutrality.” Ben Said has a regular job — her position at Aswat Nissa is unsalaried — as a senior program manager at Search for Common Ground, an international non-profit agency.
One of the ironies of the 2011 revolution in Tunisia is that while it was a step forward for democracy, it has always threatened to be a step backwards for women’s rights.
Many Tunisians are socially and religiously conservative, and the fall of the autocratic President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali gave them a political voice in their country for the first time.
In the first free elections in the country history, in 2011, the moderate Islamist Ennahda party took more than a third of the votes, more than four times its nearest rival.
And so when Ikram Ben Said set out to create an organization dedicated to women’s rights that year, it was clear to her that she would have to be inclusive if she was to be successful.
From that date it will be possible to validate European patent applications and patents in Tunisia, where, after validation, they will confer essentially the same protection as patents granted by the EPO for the now 38 member states of the European Patent Organisation. Validation in Tunisia is mainly governed by the annex to the validation agreement, as published together with Presidential Decree No. Validation in Tunisia occurs at the applicant's request.
Asked where she sees herself in ten years, Ben Said answers that, depending on the circumstances, she could see herself in politics or in civil service, in Tunisia or abroad.
But activists like Ben Said say the country’s laws still leave much to be desired.
In matters of inheritance, sons and sometimes other male members of the family are favored over daughters.
If the designation fee has not been paid and further processing is available, the validation fee can still be paid along with the further processing concerning the designation fee.
If the validation fee is not paid in due time, the request for validation is deemed withdrawn. A reference to Tunisia as a validation state will be included in the request for grant form (EPA/EPO/OEB 1001) and the form for entry into the European phase (EPA/EPO/OEB 1200).