Women In The Algerian War

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Algerians began fighting for their independence in 1954, nearly after 130 years of violence and oppression from French colonialism. Years of anger and frustration led to the Algerian Revolution to rapidly take place in the mid-1950s. The Algerian war has been described as a “moment in which gendered, religious, and ethnic identities were challenged.” Along with the fight for liberation, the fight for equality was rising as a result of the women’s movement.
In the midst of the 19th century, Algerian society was conservative and patriarchal. This was a result of the Islamic Sharia Law that favored males and denied women of equal rights. They were strictly following the centuries-old tradition in which women were supposed to be domestic servants,
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This achievement brought hopes to many women that their status would improve as a result of fighting in the war. However, national liberation did not bring women’s liberation. Many famous female veterans described the war as being “brief parenthesis of roles and status for women, brutally closed in 1962 by a patriarchal nationalist movement which removed them and denied them any role in the post-colonial project”. Women were expected to return back to their homes and perform domestic jobs again. As Djamila Amrane, a female veteran, states: “each woman was put back into square one”. Interestingly enough, many women believed that they had more rights during the war than after.After the war, women who participated in the national struggle “suddenly disappeared from public view”. Every form of progress that was made during the war, in regards of gender equality, was lost. There were physical and mental effects of the gender inequality that was created by Algerian leaders. During the war, the FLN challenged stereotypes of women and produced their own versions of Algerian women, who actively fought in combat, to resemble male qualities. As a result, many female war veterans faced a lost femininity. Farida, a war veteran, describes her situation as ‘I was no longer really a woman. War had changed me; I had become numb and had forgotten my femininity”. Many women remained silence about the injustices they faced during the war in order to forget the trauma they faced during the war. Despite facing all these struggles, women were not recognized for their vital contributions in the post-war period; they were only used to win the war. Although the government failed to recognize women’s contribution to the war for independence, women did manage to pass a constitution in 1962 that recognized the rights of women. The Algerian constitution gave equal rights to all citizens, regardless of gender.

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