Women's Leadership Algeria - History and Progress

Women’s leadership in Algeria is historical. Women participated in the Algerian revolution in the 1950s, started voting in 1962 and the Algerian constitution has contained an equality clause since 1963. In 1984, Algeria appointed its first female Minister: Z’hor Ounissi, Minister for Social Protection. Minister Ounissi was the first woman in the Algerian Government.  

Women’s rights organizations have played an important role in women's emancipation and leadership as well. In 2005, they won a family law reform which provides more rights for women, including the rights to request divorce and to pass Algerian nationality to their children. In 2015, after years of work by these organizations, Algeria passed a law punishing violence toward women. 

Despite this progress in laws and formal rights, women’s participation in the labor force is not strong. Women in Algeria are almost the half of the total population (49%) but they represent only 15.23 % of the labor force. This percentage has increased from 13.81% in 2008 to 16.15% in 2012 but it is still quite low. 

Women’s Participation and Leadership During the Past Decade

In 2008, the Algerian Constitution was amended in order to promote women's political rights and access to decision making positions. In 2012, Algeria adopted an electoral law which introduced a quota to ensure that women comprise 20 to 50% of electoral lists for parties running in legislative, municipal, and communal elections (the percentage depends on the number of seats). With the adoption of the quota, the percentage of women in the National People’s Assembly (lower house in the Parliament) increased from 7.7% (29 women) to 31.6% (146 women) in 2007, but has since fallen to 25.5% in 2017 (119 / 462 seats)  and only 10 women have seats out of 143 seats in the upper house. Furthermore, Algeria has seen only one female candidate for the presidency: Louisa Hanoune challenged but lost to incumbent President Bouteflika in 2004.  

This lack of women's leadership in the Parliament is balanced by the increase of women in ministries. In 2008, there was only one female minister, but in 2014 Algeria had seven female ministers. However, today women head four of the Algerian government ministries including the Ministry of Communication and New Technologies.  

Glass Ceiling and Glass Walls Exist

According to the Leadership Index, women are more likely to hold diverse leadership positions when the public feels they make good leaders. In Algeria, 47.8% of the population strongly agree that men make better political leaders than women do, and 21% consider that a university education is more important for a boy than for a girl. This perception directly impacts women's ability to be leaders, despite other data showing that women are more educated than men:  84.70% of girls complete the lower secondary education versus 68.20% of boys. Thus, while women have a literacy rate of 67.55%, their pathways to leadership is still challenged.  

Moreover, although the laws promoting women's participation and leadership exist, the question remains whether they are enforced and how the public perceives the roles of women and men.

As a result, men still hold the majority of leadership positions in Algeria. Let’s use the data to ensure women are allowed to rise into leadership in Algeria.