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Women at Work

According to the latest Gender Gap report, Algeria’s gender gap has unfortunately widened by 3% in the last year and has one of the lowest levels of income parity globally, with a gap of 82% [1]. Unemployment rates amongst women are over twice that of men (26.2%, compared to 10.8% of men), despite the fact that literacy rates are higher amongst women and women are participating in University at a higher rate too. Women aged 10+ spend 20.8% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 3.8% for men [2]. However, when it comes to wage equality for similar work, Algeria is amongst the five top performing countries globally, with a gap of just 18.8% [3].

Overall, Algeria is amongst the worst-performing countries for gender equality in the Middle East and North Africa region for political empowerment and economic participation and opportunity [4].

Women’s participation in parliament

Women currently hold just 8% of seats in parliament (34 of a total 407 seats). This figure has actually declined over the past decade from 145 seats in the 2012 parliament and 120 in 2017 [5]. This sizeable drop is a result of amendments to the elections law which dropped the quota system, introduced in 2011, that mandated one-third of the seats in parliament and local government be set aside for women. The 2011 law had great success at increasing women’s political representation, as demonstrated by 2012 and 2017 statistics of female representation, however was criticised by gender activists for its surface-level impact that had not translated into shifts in women’s actual involvement in party politics or government. The law also received a negative response amongst wider society as a result of persistent social norms and stereotypes surrounding the capabilities and skills of women. The new law, announced in March 2021, required gender parity only in party lists whilst adopting an open-list system which offered little protection to female candidates from patriarchal norms and attitudes amongst voters [6].

Violence against women

Across the country, feminist activists and organisations continue to raise concerns about country-wide levels of GBV and femicides, the lack of comprehensive data reporting on the problem, and the state’s inertia to this issue. In October 2020, the story of Chaïma, a 19-year-old who was kidnapped, raped, beaten, and burned alive in the town of Thénia, made headlines. In January 2021, Warda Hafedh, a 45-year-old mother of five, was killed by her spouse and, just two days later, journalist Tinhinane Laceb was also murdered by her husband. The stories of these women sparked outrage across the country; the hashtag #WeLostOneOfUs began trending on Twitter and women defied lockdown restrictions to protest the increase in GBV across the country [7].

There are some statistics available on levels of violence against women. According to police statistics reported by Algerian media, there were more than 7,000 cases of violence against women in 2018. However, the actual figure is likely to be much higher due to the problem of underreporting. According to “Femicides-dz”, a femicide tracking resource created by two feminist activists, 75 women were killed by an intimate partner of family member in 2019, 54 in 2020, and another 55 in 2021 [8].

Harmful attitudes surrounding GBV persist and women continue to face a great deal of stigma and hostility, both from society and police enforcement, when reporting domestic violence. This is largely because corporal punishment of women by husbands or male relatives is widespread and still generally accepted. This is reflected at a legal level, too. Sexual harassment and domestic violence were not criminalised by law until 2015. This law has allowed the prosecution of violence within the family, however it only applies to spouses and ex-spouses. It does not apply to relatives, unmarried couples, or other household members. Marital rape is also not recognised by law, despite the fact that a study in 2013 found that 14% of Algerian women said they had been subjected to forced sexual intercourse by an intimate partner [9].

Women’s health

There has been positive progress on women’s health rights. In 2013, 77.2% of women of reproductive age had their need for family planning satisfied with modern methods. The country’s maternal mortality ratio is 112 per 100,000 live births, lower than the global average of 152 deaths per 100,000 live births [10].

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