Women are certainly more involved in politics right now than any other time in history. Still, there are a number of roadblocks that still stand in the way of their full participation and this recent spat over Algeria’s conservative politics goes to prove just that.
BBC reported how Algerian political parties have agreed to display the faces of female candidates on posters after some outcry came about as a result of the blank avatars that were used.
The outcry arose after parties in the Bordj Bou Arreridj Province put up posters showing hijabs surrounding blank spaces to represent female candidates alongside photos of male candidates. The election authorities gave the political parties two days to display photos or be removed from the vote.
Hassan Noui an official of the Independent High Authority for Election Monitoring (HIISE) said;
“This kind of encroachment is dangerous; it is not legal and it opposes all laws and traditions,”
“It is every citizen’s right to know whom he will vote for.”
The views shared by one candidate, Fatma Tirbakh, from the National Front for Social Justice party in the eastern Ouargla Province, opened up the real culprit behind Algeria’s conservative politics to be the conservative environment of the nation.
Tirbakh appeared as a blank female avatar on Ennahar TV to discuss the issue stating that although she believes that displaying her picture is important, the conservative nature of the society she comes from decided the argument for her;
“Displaying my photo is important, I believe. But I come from a southern region. Honestly speaking, it is hugely conservative… it is because of this that my own photo is not used.
“In all honesty, the family did force me not to show my photo on TV. But they do not have a problem with my face being on a poster.”
The female politician also added that her family had absolutely no problem with her working as a politician representing people in parliament. It is a discordant reality, one where women are supposedly free to participate in politics but with a lot more roadblocks than their male counterparts.
Display of Algeria’s conservative politics a setback
This particular display of Algeria’s conservative politics has been seen by some as a setback on the positive reforms that have occurred in Algeria’s political sector over a period of five years.
In 2012, the United Nations Development Programme reported that Algerian women occupied 31 percent of parliamentary seats, placing the country 26th in the world and 1st in the Arab world when considering the number of women in parliament.
FFS official, Hassen Ferli blamed the party’s communications team in Bordj Bou Arreridj for the “regrettable” posters, he said in a statement carried on local media that the party was committed to equality between men and women. He said:
“The FFS vigorously condemns this practice which is incompatible with the party’s values.”