Speech of Mrs Houda Boulahbel, Algerian Ambassador’s spouse
Today is a happy day for all of us, I am especially happy that all Women around the world are being applauded and recognized on this very important day; International Women’s Day.
When the world was created, you were created to beautify it and you have certainly done a great job because the world is smiling for you today Women!
On behalf of the Algerian Women, the women of the People’s Democratic Republic of Algeria, I am honored to convey to you our sincere wishes as we mark today the International Women’s Day. I would like to express my deep gratitude for the friendship with all of you present today at this, our Algerian embassy residence, to celebrate DISPAS this March 8th, 2017 International Women’s Day. You are all welcome!
Officially declared by the UN in 1977, the « International Women’s Day » finds its origins in the struggles of the women workers and suffragettes of the early XXth Century, for better working conditions and right to vote. It is an eventful day throughout the world that gives us an opportunity to evaluate the journey and development of women.
Today, the International Women’s Day remains a burning topic, and for as long as the equality between man and woman is not attained, our celebration remains meaningless.
Today, I would like to observe a moment for a remarkable French woman whom I have had the pleasure of knowing here in Kampala, Mrs. Sophie Viguier, who we all know for her generosity and kindness. She has hosted charity luncheons, various artists’ exhibitions and above all her involvement in charitable acts for the pupils of Kampala “Les écoliers de Kampala”. Sophie lost her husband Julien on Wednesday 22nd February in Kenya. May His Soul Rest in Peace!
Today, I also would like to applaud all the ambassadorial and diplomatic spouses who constantly sacrifice their careers for their husband’s in diplomatic missions. It is no easy job for us all. Every time the Ambassadors and Diplomats are relocated, they have to pack up, move and learn and adapt to new environments. Most of these spouses lose the opportunity to continue their career with each move. As a matter of fact, these ladies selflessly dedicate themselves even more by contributing to social causes through charity work in their respectful host countries. We, therefore, must celebrate and acknowledge their spirit of giving and sacrifice.
Today, as we convene here at the Algerian Residence, we are honoured to have the leadership of the following organizations: « DISPAS » chaired by Ms. Anna Fornara, spouse of the Ambassador of Italy, » IWO », chaired by Ms. Paruru Nielsen, « Isis Women International Cross Cultural Exchange », chaired by Ms. Helen Kezie, « UWESO », Uganda Women’s Effort to save Orphans whose founder is the First Lady Honorable Janet Museveni, represented by Aguti Jennifer, Chief Executive Officer, and « Diplomat 256″, chaired by Ms. Annabella Johnson and represented by Ms. Sonia Rees.
On this occasion, the first thing we learn is that this meeting is more than a merger of different female associations: it is like a microcosm of the broad and diverse cultures comprising all the peoples of the world. It represents a lot of initiatives and collaborations we have in our vision. More importantly, it is a good platform that sets a standard at which we can all collaborate and build good international and inter-cultural relationships in Uganda that are driven by women organizations to address global issues that directly affect women, especially on International Women’s Day.
As an ambassadorial spouse, honorary consul, diplomatic spouse, expat, a woman, we all have an opportunity to help others and by joining DISPAS, IWO, UWESO, Isis, Diplomat256 and other associations, we are able to combine all of our resources to help underprivileged communities’ children and women in particular. At the same time, we are able to forge lasting and meaningful friendships.
Last year, April 2016, with the support of our Algerian diplomatic spouses, I had the privilege to host our DISPAS Coffee morning, where I had the opportunity to organize an Algerian cultural day with a fashion show featuring Algerian traditional outfits. We enjoyed discovering different cultures from different ambassadorial and diplomatic spouses.
It is my hope that you will take with you the warmth and reward that this unique family has to offer today.
It’s also my pleasure and great honour to talk about the Algerian women and also hear from Mrs. Huweida, the spouse to the Sudanese Ambassador, and Mrs. Nada the spouse to the Egyptian Deputy Ambassador. They will each update us on their achievements in terms of Gender Equality in their respective countries as part of our efforts towards “The African–Arab Women’s Empowerment in Development”.
For Algerian women, our history has shown the long and hard fought battle for gender equality. Since Algeria’s independence, a new construction of womanhood has continuously emerged: Notable are national heroines of the War for Independence: Djamila Bouhired, Hassiba Ben Bouali, Djamila Bouazza, Baya Hocine, and many other Heroines.
Though they were exposed to the violence of the war, women did play a very significant role during the war for Independence. It is estimated that more than 10,000 women participating in the Algerian revolution, 51% were under 20 years of age and 95% were less than 30 years of age actively involved; serving in different roles, in either a military or non-military capacity, and gained the respect of men.
As women became increasingly active in the war effort, men’s respect for women also grew because they understood that women in Algerian society could prove useful as active combatants.
However, Algeria’s modern woman has come a long way in paving the path towards power and influence throughout Algerian society, even amid the terrorism era of the 1990’s. The primary cause of this empowerment was education, which was partly responsible for the reduction of gender barriers.
Algeria’s notable progress in gender equality within education between 2003 and 2008 showed that 96.3 % of girls completed primary school.
The number of girls enrolled in secondary school was significantly higher than boys and 61% of total graduates in University education were women. Since 1990, the government has been investing about 5.8% of its GDP in education. These figures suggest that women have the front line when it comes to education.
Indeed, Algerian legislation regarding work and education does not discriminate based on gender. The Law dictates that both genders are on equal footing when it comes to the labour force. Same position, same salary, same advantages.
Art. 32– The citizens are equal before the law, without any discrimination in favor of birth, race, sex, opinion or any other reason or personal or social circumstance.
Art. 36 (new) –The state is working towards the promotion of equality between men and women on the job market.
In Algeria, in the last five years, women’s economic rights and opportunities have improved in many respects.
The amended family code gave women the ability to establish the separation of goods in their marriage contracts; the penal code has criminalized sexual harassment.
Algerian women tend to be heavily present in the judicial system, where they account for 65% of judges and they seem to be breaking the traditional fields’ tendencies in some non-traditional areas.
The challenge faced by the Algerian government is to make sure to improve the quality and content of the education system and professional training programs, with the purpose of promoting gender equality in the workforce. With labour unions, however, the women of Algeria are taking larger and much-needed steps to achieve social and economic justice for females at work. The idea is to help women gain higher positions, and encourage more involvement within unions.
In terms of ACHIEVEMENTS of the Constitution, as part of Women rights, in his different programs, the President of the Republic of Algeria instructed the government to improve on the legislation concerning the protection of women, particularly through the amendment of the penal code in its provisions on violence against women, and with regard to the child support terms payable in respect of the (hadhana) (custody right). /The child support of divorced women.
The state established a fund to ensure that the divorced woman and her children are well catered for in the case that the divorced husband/father of the children is not traceable by government for the purposes of paying child support. A measure which is to enable divorced women to access more easily their food allowance in case of nonpayment by the former husband.
Many fathers in a situation of bankruptcy were condemned for not remitting food allowances.
Law relating to violence against women:
Provisions on sexual harassment at work, article 341-bis of the Penal are introduced into the employment/labour code, and from now, this behavior is punishable by law, even though it still remains very difficult for the victim to produce proof, just like in many other countries.
This text comes to strengthen and widen the range of sanctions against all forms of violence which women suffer in the domestic spheres, public or places of work, those responsible for physical violence and sexual harassment will be subjected to prison terms and to more serious fines.
Associations for the advocacy of women rights welcomed this text which contains their demands, and which is deemed to be in conformity with the international charters and conventions adopted by Algeria in as far the protection of women against all forms of violence is. It also provides sanctions for the abandonment of a spouse whether expectant or not. It also legislates against pressures or intimidation aimed at depriving the spouse of her property.
As for the Political Parity between Women and Men:
The law governing women quotas, known as the « organic law » which determines how to increase the women chances to gaining access to representation in elected Assemblies, was adopted by Parliament in 2012.
This law allowed the entry of women into the Assembly where they are today slightly more than 32%. Since the adoption of the organic law N° 12-03, the quotas are imposing an obligation to the State and to the political party personalities.
In other terms, Women must comprise a certain number or percentage of an elected authority.
Women account for 53% of the population, 45% of magistrates and currently occupy 32% of the seats in the National Popular Assembly (Parliament). Statistics place Algeria in the 26th position, according to the world classification of the Inter-parliamentary Union, ahead of all Arab countries, in the face of the strongest representation in the Arab region.
It is the constitutional recognition which dictates the enhancement of women participation in elective assemblies and contributes to the promotion of gender equality.
In another measure designed to ensure that political parties present the largest number of women, the state made provisions for special financial aid, depending on the number of women elected.
The World Forum of Women Parliamentarians in Jordan in Amman, (Jordan) gave a special award to Algeria in recognition of her efforts and achievements in favor of the promotion and empowerment of the Algerian woman in the political aspect.
This award comes as a recognition of the achievements accomplished in as far as the empowerment of women is concerned and the legislative reforms made in the context of gender equality in the political field, in addition to the introduction of the quota system.
Different programs and strategies initiated by the Head of State in favor of the Woman, including the national strategy for the promotion and integration of women, the five-year plan for the promotion of the rural woman and the national strategy for the fight against violence towards women.
The intense and efficient efforts of our President in favour of the Algerian Woman, won him three awards given to him by the World Forum of Women Parliamentarians in 2013 (Belgium) in 2015 (Ethiopia) and in 2016 ( Jordan).
As a conclusion, let me speak in Arabic language first then I will translate into French and English.
إن هذا اليوم الذي نحتفي به لا يمكن أن يكون إلا رمزيا . فمن ذا الذي يمكنه أن ينكر دور المرأة الجوهري والأساسي في كل لحظة من لحظات الحياة لقد قال شاعر ذات مرة أن المرأة هي مستقبل الرجل. ربما قد يكون هذا القول صحيحاً، لكنه من المؤكد أنها ركيزته الأساسية في الحاضر. أليست المرأة هي أول مدرسة نتعلم فيها الحياة.
هناك أيضآ مثل عربي يقول بأن وراء كل رجل عظيم امرأة. هل هذه هي مكانتها إن صح هذا القول، أم أن المكانة التي تستحقها بجدارة والتي تليق بتضحياتها هي أن تكون بجانبه ؟
بالرغم من عدم إظهار دورها دوما، إن لم نقل محاولة التقليل من شأنها.
Cela étant, la journée que nous célébrons en ce jour ne peut être symbolique, car qui peut nier le rôle tellement primordial, tellement essentiel de la femme à chaque moment de la vie. Un poète disait que la femme est l’avenir de l’Homme. Cela est probablement vrai, mais n’est-elle pas aussi le pilier, souvent occulté, de son présent et sa première école d’apprentissage de la vie ? Un proverbe arabe dit que derrière chaque grand homme existe une femme. Mais ne devrait-elle pas être plutôt à sa juste place, c’est-à-dire à ses côtés ?
Therefore, the day that we are celebrating here today, must remain symbolic, for who can deny the most crucial and essential role of a woman at every moment of life? One poet said that the woman is the future of a Man. That is probably true, but isn’t she also the pillar, often hidden, of his present and his school of learning of life? An Arab proverb says, behind every successful man stands a strong woman. But shouldn’t she be in her right place which is to say by his side?
Thank you for your attention and Happy Women’s Day!
عيد سعيد لكل النساء
Bonne Fête à toutes les Femmes!