Leadership Council for Human Rights

~ Feet in the mud, head in the sky ~

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Algerian women making dramatic gains

Despite the burdens of tradition and the devastating legacy of civil war, a new movement is underway in Algeria, The New York Times reported Saturday. With an unprecedented increase in the number of women involved in the economic and political realms, Algeria is setting the mark for the rest of the Arab world to follow. More than 70 percent of the lawyers and 60 percent of the judges in the tradition-bound nation are women. In addition to the legal field, women also dominate medicine and make up 60 percent of university students.

While women are seldom seen occupying public roles elsewhere in the region, Algerian women are increasingly visible in traditionally male positions such as bus and taxi drivers, waiters, and gas station attendants. Although women are only 20 percent of the Algerian work force, this number has doubled since the previous generation. “If such a trend continues,” said Daho Djerbal, editor and publisher of Naqd, a magazine of social criticism and analysis, “we will see a new phenomenon where our public administration will also be controlled by women.”

The Algerian trend has been carried out by women who are more religious and more modern. The result is a population wearing the traditional Islamic hijab while working alongside men. The rise in women’s involvement in the public sphere constitutes what the article dubs the “quiet revolution” in Algeria; an occurrence that shows great prospects for alleviating gender oppression based on religious fundamentalism. The trend in Algeria is slowly changing the meaning of being a woman in an Islamic state, the article says.

For the full article, click here.


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