Dilshod Achilov, an assistant professor of political science at East Tennessee State University sets out the real position of women in Algeria.
15/08/2014 by socialistfight
Algerian women dressed in traditional garbs.
A highly conservative Muslim society, Algeria nonetheless boasts, by quota, a high representation of women in its government (even higher than the average of the European Union). In addition, 60 percent of college graduates in Algeria are women.
However, such prominence of female lawmakers is but a façade — Algeria is an authoritarian, essentially one-party state, in which an ancient patriarchy rules.
The International Business Times spoke with an expert on Mideast-Arab affairs to disentangle the complex puzzle that is Algeria.
The fact that women represent nearly one-third of the Algerian parliament is truly impressive, given that the global average is only 20 percent. In the Arab world as a whole, the rate is even lower (about 14 percent).
In comparative terms, Algerian women MPs hold more political power than their Arab counterparts. In the context of the Muslim world, Algeria is only second to Senegal (about 40 percent) with the highest ratio of women MPs.
Nevertheless, Algerian politics are highly authoritarian.
In fact, the level of civil liberties and political rights in Algeria is one of the lowest in the Arab world. According to Freedom House rankings, the level of civil liberties and political rights has not improved at all in Algeria in the last 15 years.
It is perhaps more accurate to state that the current government will empower and support those women who do not (and will not) challenge the current political system and/or current regime. The policies of the current regime revolve around protecting the authoritarian structures built around the president, Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
With this in mind, it would be premature to conclude that having a high ratio of women MPs would be sufficient to make claims about liberties that women enjoy in Algeria. Having more seats in parliament does not necessarily translate into more liberties in absolute terms.
Forced marriage, child marriage, forced dowry payments and honour killings are still frequent in rural Algeria, about 30% of the country?
Women In Algeria: Progress And Paradox, By Palash Ghosh