Tunisia’s Heroine


“Woman must not accept; she must challenge. She must not be told how to use her freedom; she must find out for herself. She must not be awed by that which has been built up around her; she must reverence that within her which struggles for expression.”, said the American activist Margaret Sanger. This statement can be made concrete through the journey of Tawhida Ben Sheikh.

Tawhida was the first female physician in north frica and the Arab world. she was also a leader in women’s medicines such as abortion and contraception.

Ben sheikh is definitely an icon of courage and determination. She dreamt big and achieved her goal despite all obstacles. At that time, as Tunisia was colonized by France, one can not describe her journey as a smooth and a painless one.

In 1936, she graduated from the medicine school of Paris. Consequent to her return to Tunisia, she was given a dinner in her honor by local physicians. Tawhida was specialized in gynecology and she was a strong supporter of family planning in the 60s and 70s which made her instruct doctors in abortion procedures. Ben sheikh has also directed a clinic in Tunisia as the old customs of Arabs forbid women from being examined by male doctors.

Tahwida made her way through the darkness to the light of science. Her determination and journey have unspired many women to challenge themselves and oustand beyond the customs and instructions of social conventions. She is an inspiration for all generations, for Tunisian females keep exelling on all majors and fields with no exeption.

by Wiem S.