Algeria's National Consultative Committee on the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (CNCPPDH) held a conference in Algiers on Thursday (December 9th) on ways to implement civil rights legislation and enhance the role of women in politics.
One hundred and fifty delegates, including ministers, UN agency representatives in Algiers, the two houses of parliament, members of diplomatic bodies in Algiers, along with representatives from the judicial police and national police force, took part in the conference, held to mark the 62nd anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The discussion focused on "non-discrimination in international charters and legislation", and participants called for action to increase the representation of women in Algeria's political institutions.
One bill under consideration for the past two years would require that women constitute at least 30% of elected bodies, according to Maya Sahli, a UN expert on Africa. Sahli is also a member of the national commission responsible for drafting legislation to enforce Article 31 of the Algerian constitution, which guarantees equality between men and women.
It is up to the political parties to apply the provisions of the proposed law, which is awaiting examination by the Constitutional Council. According to Sahli, the bill provides for the suspension of state subsidies to political groups which refuse to abide by the new rules. Additionally, appointments to higher-level posts within the executive fall within the purview of the president.
The level of political representation among Algerian women was too low, despite "the huge political will behind their advancement", according to CNCPPDH head Farouk Ksentini. He also defended the notion of parity between men and women in political posts. The committee is responsible for implementing the UN's "No to discrimination" theme.
Zerdani Belmihoub Meriem, a member of the judicial commission, recommended banning any form of discrimination regarding women and supporting the idea of promoting parity between the sexes in political representation.
Algeria has ratified all the international conventions to promote women's participation. Belmihoub Meriem also recommended the adoption of a quota system when appointing people to cabinet, embassy and other important posts.
Similarly, Sahli said there is a clear discrimination concerning those from the African continent, particularly when it comes to accessing education.
Women are poorly represented among Algeria's governing assemblies. As an illustration, Family and Women's Affairs Minister Nouara Saadia Djaafar cited the level of women's representation within the National Popular Assembly (APN), which is just 7.75%. In the Wilaya Popular Assemblies (APW), the rate is 13.19%, and it is just 0.74% in the Communal Popular Assemblies (APC).
Djaafar suggested that parties and institutions have not done enough for women's advancement, particularly in the political sphere.
"Women are not represented as much as their skills and abilities merit in political matters," Djaafar said.