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Ahlem Tartir: A Woman Sustaining Career in Male-Dominant Spaces

While women have made substantial progress into the corporate world, many fields like engineering, technology, and finance still appear stubbornly resistant to gender diversity. Despite the best efforts of many firms, gender equality is still prevailing as a bitter reality. For example, it has been estimated that nearly 40% of women pursuing engineering eventually decide to leave the profession due to of workplace gender discrimination.

Research has identified many barriers that deter women from establishing careers in male-dominated industries. To name a few, they are considered technically incompetent and are not given the responsibility of any higher position.

However, many women somehow manage to forge their successful careers, over many years, in a work environment dominated by men, including politics. In 2018, 26 years after the first “Year of the Woman” in 1992, 102 women were elected to the House of Representatives. Although, they still represent less than 25% of the total number of elected officials in the chamber, it was still a good initiative for their empowerment.

Sometimes, even progress does not mean parity, and working in a climate where one has been constantly excluded from various roles, such as a research lab, corporate boardrooms, or even congress, can lead many women to question their capabilities. However, self-belief is essential to break the stereotypes and to rise above all societal norms. Ahlem Arfaoui Tartir did the same!

Born on September 14, 1979, in Testour, Tunisia, Tartir became an international human right observer and international expert in sustainable development. She is also the President of the International Organization of Local Government. From a very young age, she had the passion for learning about different things and her passion led her toward the path of success. She has a vast academic background. Tartir started with doing a Baccalaureate Diploma in Mathematics and ended up becoming a certified Consultant in Diplomatic Protocol from the US Institute of Diplomacy and Human Rights MSA in Leadership Principles from the Business School of Harvard University. In the meantime, she also managed to complete her Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of Kansas, which increased her interest in politics. Achieving these milestones took her a great deal of time, but she remained determined and accomplished huge success.

Her achievements were never restricted to academics, and she rose from scratch in her corporate career as well. Tartir has worked as a mayor of the Municipality of Beja, Tunisia, government delegate, and administrator advisor for government agencies. From 2012 to 2014, she served as second-degree Secretary General of the Municipality. Since 2014, she has served as an international expert and coach with great expertise in local government affairs. From 2014 to 2017, this exemplary woman has been a delegate of North Beja, Tunisia.

Through the possession of her vast knowledge, Tartir is an international consultant in local governance and democracy in the United Nations. She is also working as an executive member of the International Federation of Aging and a Diplomatic Protocol and Etiquette Consultant. Observing her diversified capabilities, she became the President of the International Organization of Local Government. The organization aims to strengthen local government across the globe to make the third tier of democracy functional. It provides a voice to democratic local governments by including all stakeholders. It also encourages the participation of women and youth so that they can play an effective and active role in local government.

Tartir has been involved in government and political work from the beginning of her career. She is also an Executive member of the UNA-USA.  Through her hard work in politics, she  became an honored member of International Leadership Association (ILA). She promotes and works for sustainable development, decentralization, and youth and women empowerment in different municipalities across the globe. In 2021, Tartir received the Lifetime Achievement Award from US President Joe Biden. The World Economic Forum (WEF) has also recognized Tartir as an Exceptional Leader of Excellence. Tartir has also received Excellent Work in Women’s Human Rights Award. As an International Human Rights Observer and Women’s Rights Activist, she has monitored a plethora of seminars for UN and trained political officials in Tozeur, Kasserine, Naabeul, Siliana, Jendouba, Kef, Bizerte, and Beja.

In 2018, she was presented with a Certificate of Honor from the Tunisian President on National Women’s Day. She also received a Certificate of Appreciation from the United Nations on International Women’s Day in 2018. The certificate was presented to recognize her services in improving the role of women in local governance. All these glorious achievements have proved that Tartir thrived her way through male-dominated spaces and became an icon for women all across the world.

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