Feminism powers Algeria’s Hirak for democracy, equality

By Nacera Ouabou

Algiers, Feb 21 (efe-epa).- Women, protagonists of the “Hirak” popular opposition movement, are still one of its main spearheads two years on and remain convinced that equality is key for true transformation and full democracy in Algeria.

The movement broke out on 22 February 2019 against plans of the entourage of the then-president Abdelaziz Bouteflika for him to seek a fifth consecutive term, despite suffering from an illness that had disabled him since 2013.

Having prevented that scenario by April, the weekly rallies continued every Tuesday and Friday to demand the ousting of the military regime that has ruled the country since gaining its independency from France in 1962.

However, the measures imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic helped to slow the protests after attempts to repress them by other means.

In the meantime, former prime minister Abdelmedjid Tebboune – considered one of the regime’s puppets – won presidential elections held in December 2019 that saw a turnout of less than 40 percent, a record low.

Confined to the family home, in many cases the victims of domestic violence, away from positions of political and business responsibility, women like Amel Hadjadj saw in “Hirak” a golden opportunity to claim equality.

 “Women have the same role as men in the Hirak, we fought the same system except that our fight is a double fight,” Hadjadj, leader of Carré feministe, a main driver of the Hirak, says.

“In this system there are components of patriarchy and a society that discriminates against women, and we also fight against that,” she adds.

Hadjadj, an activist since her adolescence, welcomes Efe to her house in the upper part of the Bay of Algiers, which has always been under the watchful eye of the secret police, who have watched the movement since the beginning.

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