Oral history interview with Wided Bouchamaoui, 2016
Wided Bouchamaoui is a Tunisian businesswoman who since 2011 has been the leader of the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA). She took part in the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. Bouchamaoui worked for Hédi Bouchamaoui & Sons, an oil and textile firm started by her grandfather, before starting her own firm, which specialized in cotton.
Scope and Contents
Wided Bouchamaoui recalls her experience of the revolutionary protests, which were spontaneous and led by Tunisia's highly educated youth. She comments on the rapid pace of the transition and the challenges that Tunisia continues to face, such as alleviating unemployment, encouraging entrepreneurship among youth, and economic stability. Bouchamaoui then describes the formation of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet. There was no selection process; these four organizations reached out to each other spontaneously. Even the Tunisian General Labor Union (UGTT)-structurally positioned against the Tunisian Confederation of Industry, Trade and Handicrafts (UTICA), Bouchamaoui's organization-was a natural social partner. Bouchamaoui speculates on the characteristics of Tunisian society that allowed the national dialogue to be successful. She narrates her experience working with the Quartet. She enumerates a few of what she believes are Tunisia's structural problems. Bouchamaoui then recalls submitting the Quartet's candidacy to the Nobel Peace Prize, and her astonishment when it won. She hopes Tunisia, though it is not perfect, can be an example to others pursuing peace and stability through dialogue. Finally, Bouchamaoui opines that Tunisia must focus on countering terrorism and improving the economy through increases in investment and jobs. She comments on separation of religion and politics, input from citizenry in the political process, and the role of young Tunisians.
Copyright by the Trustees of Columbia University in the City of New York, 2016.