‘Women in Algeria are rising up’

‘It’s all about strong women, and how we can empower each other.' Project manager Sanaa Hamadouche is proud to participate in the Female Leadership Programme. She is in charge of the gender theme at an international NGO in Algeria and is an advocate for women’s rights, a subject that is close to her heart.

‘I think it’s amazing meeting women role models from different countries in the Middle East Northern Africa region. All participants are so intelligent and have achieved so much in their field. I've learned a lot from them. These last few days really helped me empower myself. I studied in Lyon and Paris, but I have always felt insecure. Now I know: ‘I am fierce and can do anything I want.’ For the first time in my life I accept who I am.’  

Sanaa Hamadouche

Sanaa Hamadouche

Family code

‘But compared to the lives of most women in Algeria, I see my struggles in a different light. For my work I’m based in Algiers, but I also travel a lot around the country, including visits to the Tindouf refugee camps in the south. The women I meet often feel powerless and see their struggles as a failure. In my country men and women are not equal yet. The family code is a big problem and keeps women restricted. They are not independent and are overpowered by men.’

Mindset

‘If we want to change things, we must work on mindset, among both men and women. It’s hard to defy centuries-old laws and traditions. Gender equality is a sensitive issue in Algeria and we’re trying to raise awareness. Men and women should have the same rights. In our training we also work with men, but that’s not easy. In one of our recent projects we supported an Algerian rapper who made a video about toxic masculinity. In it he talks to his son about manhood and how society has made it problematic.’

Step by step

‘The Dutch embassy in Algiers is at the forefront of equal rights for women. It’s important to help other countries and share knowledge and experience. The embassy supports several of our projects. Together we work a lot with young women. We take it step by step and approach them carefully. We offer them economic support and provide sub-loans for micro projects. Now they can work in a number of sectors, such as traditional crafts, agriculture and sewing. After two or three years some women come back to us and ask for further business advice. So I think we’re making progress.’

Raising their voice

‘I see the embassy as an example and feel inspired. I’d like to work more on these topics in the future. My wish is that the women in Algeria continue to rise up. They should raise their voice and be part of our society’s development. I hope we will finally be heard, especially by men.’

Women leaders from countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), with prominent positions in business, social entrepreneurship, government and civil society, visited the Netherlands to participate in a new edition of the Female Leadership Programme.