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Legislative in Algeria: The Place of Women in Parliament


In 2012, the Algerian female MPs were the Maghreb champions in number of seats obtained in Parliament. Five years later, as legislative elections coming, their influence within the institution was counteracted by the growing conservatism of society.

“It is an insult to Algerian women and society! Like all feminist activists, lawyer Nadia Ait Zai was shocked by the appearance of faceless women on several election posters, their features having been roughly erased using Photoshop. These candidates in the legislative elections were quickly nicknamed the “ghost women”. “They want to represent the people, for Christ’s sake. How can one trust one’s anonymous face? She said angrily.

“They just have to stay at home!” “

In the Algerian media, she heard “everything and anything”. Like this woman who chose to hide her face by “shame”. Or the other who said having done so by “respect for her family”. “If they want to remain invisible, they just have to stay home! »The activist ranted.

It was necessary for the Algerian government to issue formal notices to the political parties that authorized that practice. But for many Algerians, it should have taken action before the damage is done. “Yes, the state has failed because of lack of control, but it is above all the responsibility of the political parties. Archaic and opportunist, they have completely distorted the spirit of the 2012 law which enshrines the role of women in politics,” Nadia Ait Zai explains.

In 2012, quotas for women

In that year, Abdelaziz Bouteflika passed a law introducing quotas for women in certain political bodies, known as “an organic law setting out the modalities increasing the chances of women’s access to representation in elected assemblies”, the first of its kind in Algeria. The government presented it as an integral part of the political reform process. In reality, this law was in the drawer since the amendment of the Constitution in 2008. It requires political parties to devote 30% of their electoral lists to women. It also reserves 30% of the seats in Parliament.

The presidential push quickly took immediately effect. From 2007 to 2012, the place of women in the National People’s Assembly (ANP) jumped from 7.75% to 30%. With 143 women elected out of a total of 474 seats, the Algerian women outperformed the Tunisians – who made up for themselves in 2014 by winning 30.88% of the seats in the Parliament – and beat the Moroccan women (17 % of seats in 2011, 21% in 2016).

 But it is a smokescreen percentage, because many political parties conceive of women’s participation only to make “filling”. In fact, women are rarely on top of the list and are assimilated to cannonballs that political parties are forced to drag on simply by respecting the quota.

Emancipation still by forceps

Those who still succeed in crossing the door of the Assembly are doomed to play the warriors to be admitted by their male colleagues. For example, a man does not have to beat his wife, harass her in the street or dispossess her of her possessions.

The growing conservatism of Algerian society, like all Arab societies, has called into question the pro-feminist political will expressed in 2012. Its most eloquent manifestation occurred at the time of the examination of the law Criminalizing domestic violence in 2015, which provoked the anger of conservative politicians. The latter saw in the text “a dislocation of the family” and an “imposition of Western norms”.

Source : Jeune Afrique