Marieme Hélie-Lucas, writing in 1989, talks about an alarming change in the situation of women in Algeria. A ‘Family Code’ law was introduced which removed many of women’s basic human rights. She also speaks about contraception, the problem of abandoned children and the consequences for women of the insistence on virginity at marriage.
This article traces Algerian women's struggle for full citizenship after the national liberation struggle ended in 1962. The Algerian Family Code, which became law in 1984, defines women as minors under the law and as existing only in so far as they are daughters, mothers or wives.
In 2003, the '20 ans Barakat' campaign was initiated by the association of the same name. The aim of the Campaign was to inform and raise awareness among the people in general and women in particular about the Algerian Family Code (personal status laws).
Since 2004 the Afghan Constitution has provided women with equal protection before the law. However, many discriminatory practices are disguised as 'Islamic' and, therefore, lawful. These include husbands deciding whether their wives should work, and a father having the right to prohibit his daughters from attending school or forcing them into marriage, all of them based on conservative interpretations of the Quran.
The document that defined more than half a century ago what a human being is, retains today its power as an advocacy tool for women's liberation while, some argue, falling short in the defense of women's rights via omission of the most flagrant forms of gender-based discrimination and by not referring to women in other terms than 'motherhood'.
The United NationsFourth World Conference on Women
Convened in 1995 in Beijing, following the previous ones that took place in Mexico City in 1975, Copenhagen in 1980 and Nairobi in 1985, the Conference coalesced preparations by delegates into the formulation of aPlatform for Action that sought to draw a strategic blueprint to achieve greater equality and opportunity for women.
In this issue, we welcome the launch of the programme “Women reclaiming and re-defining cultures: Asserting rights over body, self, and public spaces”, a joint venture between WLUML and the Institute of Women’s Empowerment (IWE), which brings together women from the Muslim world to examine and discuss how systems of culture, tradition and religion, are used as instruments to legitimize their oppression.
Women worldwide continue to be subjected to terrible violence in the private and public sphere, and our networkers in Senegal alert us to a grave situation where perpetrators of violence against women in that country believe that they can continue to offend without facing prosecution.
In addition to the work of multi-national institutions, the theory is that national gender machinery can play an important role in the struggle to protect and promote women’s rights. Catherine Albertyn argues that national machinery for the advancement of women “… consists of structures, mechanisms, and strategies for achieving equality for women as participants, decision makers and beneficiaries in the political, social, economic and cultural spheres of life.”