Located in the north of Africa, between Morocco and Tunisia, the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria is one of the largest countries on the continent; with its capital city being Algiers. As numerous nations in Africa struggling with adequate representation of women in government and parliament, in recent years Algeria has made outstanding advancement in the role of women in politics.
Similarly, to countless African states, women in Algeria were seen as having the role of taking care of the household and the children and various other gender specific vocations. It has been an enormous challenge for many women to stand up to a system that is deemed patriarchal and reserved for men. Nevertheless, in a highly male dominate territory, women in Algeria have now carved out an identity for themselves in politics. On May 4, 2017, a general election was held that resulted in 118 of the 462 seats in the People’s National Assembly being occupied by women.
In 2012, the Algerian government introduced a law that necessitated that 30% of parliament consist of women, a female quota seen as “positive discrimination”. However, despite this ground-breaking law, political parties found it arduous to meet the quota. This is due to political parties finding it hard to find “acceptable” and “professional” women. Not only did parties reach out to journalists, teachers and other female professionals but the candidate list also included hairstylists; labelling the law as the “coiffeur (hairstylists) parliament” in a haste to roll out the law.
|Election year||Seats of women in national assembly|
*Multiparty system introduced in 1989
In as progressive as the female quota law has been for Algeria to elect women into assemblies, the number at a local level is unfortunately low, sitting at a rate of 18%. This is the result of the reluctance of women in the rural areas to appear on ballots. Fortunately, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) devised an initiative called the Forum of Algerian Women Parliamentarians in June 2015. This encourages the participation of women in assemblies at grassroots level. Aside from this initiative, the UNDP, in same year, began working alongside the Minister of the Interior and Local Government to augment the capacities and knowledge of women elected on participatory democracy, civil society, as well as service management.
Having made such strides in national government with women occupying 30% of parliamentary seats, it has placed Algeria 26th globally and first in the Arab world, with regards to representation. This highlights just how determined the country is in creating an inclusive government and breaking the barriers of women in politics.