Chadlia Saïda Farhat, First Lady of Tunisia (since Dec 31, 2014)
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Leila Ben Ali, Former First Lady of Tunisia
Mrs. Leila Ben Ali, Tunisia’s First Lady, was born in Tunis to a large family that used to live at the heart of the ancient Medina. She graduated from the girls’ secondary school of Montfleury at the heart of the Tunisian capital Tunis. She then pursued her higher education at the Faculty of Letters of Tunis where she earned a university degree in modern literature.
“The traditional, open and tolerance-based upbringing she received from her parents instilled her with a humanist propensity and a sense of compassion toward others, particularly those in need,” says her official biography.
Tunisia’s First Lady is a sophisticated but a very humble woman who is attached to Tunisian values. She insists that she wants to remain “a Tunisian citizen like all other citizens.” She takes care of the upbringing of her son Mohamed Zine El Abidine, and that of her two daughters, Nesrine and Halima. Mrs. Ben Ali performed, in 2003, the rituals of pilgrimage accompanied by her two daughters.
Mrs Leila Ben Ali often accompanies President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, in his official visits to sisterly and friendly countries. She also accompanies him in his visits to the centers for the protection of children with physical or mental disability, children without support, and the elderly. She very often returns to these centers, unexpectedly and without any publicity, to check whether the assistance has actually been delivered. Moreover, Mrs. Ben Ali, presides in person over many women events. She seizes such occasions to push for further advancement of the status of women and highlight the role of Tunisian in sustaining the national development effort.
Mrs. Ben Ali’s main focus is social action, offering her patronage to numerous charitable associations such as S.O.S. Gammarth, El-Karama, and other associations caring for deprived children and disabled people. She is also an active supporter of the cause of the elderly often receiving them at home, in the Carthage Palace. She frequently pays visits to nursing homes, retirement homes, and centers providing care for the elderly. She is also a firm believer in the role of the family in society, often saying that “the family remains the basis of every sound and balanced social edifice”. She constantly calls for stepping up efforts in order to further enhance the role of fathers and mothers, so that they can devote more time for their children and protect them against any deviation,