Algeria is not ranked in the 2012 SIGI due to missing data for one or more SIGI variables. However, the country note below sets out information and data relating to variables where this is available information.

The country was ranked 75 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institutions and Gender Index.

Algeria is ranked 96th out of 187 countries in the 2011 Human Development Index with a score of 0.698. The 2011 UNDP Gender Inequality Index score is 0.412 placing it at 71 out of 146 countries. Algeria is ranked 121st out of 135 countries in the 2011 World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index, with a score of 0.5991.

Discriminatory Family Code: 

Algeria’s Family Code was revised in 2005, removing some clauses present in the previous Family Code that had directly discriminated against women.[19] For instance, the role of a woman’s official male guardian is now largely symbolic.[20] However, women’s rights groups in the country consider that the reforms have not gone far enough in protecting women’s rights within the family.[21]

According to the new Family Code, women cannot marry without the consent of their guardians (who are always male), however guardians cannot force a woman to marry against her will, or oppose a marriage.[22] A marriage is only recognised as valid when both spouses have given their free consent.[23] The minimum legal age of marriage in Algeria is 19 years for men and women.[24]  The average age of marriage for women is now 29.9, and is increasing annually in both urban and rural areas, according to the 2010 CEDAW report.[25]  Up-to-date figures for the number of early marriages are not available, but data from 2002 held by the United Nations indicates that 1.8% of girls aged 15-19 were married, divorced or widowed.[26]  However, early marriage is still prevalent in rural areas where family traditions prevail. The new code appears to have removed stipulations that prohibited women from marrying men who are not of Algerian nationality.[27]

Polygamy is legal in Algeria according to the Family Code, under which it appears men can take up to four wives.[28] However, legislative changes introduced in 2005[29] make it quite difficult for a man to take a second wife, as he must obtain the consent of both the first and the proposed second wife, and make an application to the Family Court for permission.[30]  The Court then decides whether the husband’s reason for wanting to take a second wife is justifiable, and whether or not he is in a position to provide for both wives.[31] According to a 2010 report published by Freedom House, 3% of households in Algeria are polygamous.[32]

The new Family Code states that the husband and wife have reciprocal rights and duties towards each other; the clause included in the previous Family Code that ’the duty of the wife is to obey her husband’, has been removed.[33]  If the couple has children, both parents are responsible for the protection of their children and for providing them with an education.[34] However, under the new Code, parental authority remains with the father, and the mother is only able to make decisions concerning the child ‘in an emergency’ if the father is absent.[35]  

The Family Code continues to treat men and women differently in the case of divorce. [36]  Men have the right to divorce without any justification, although the court may place conditions on the divorce. By contrast, women can obtain a divorce only under certain conditions (e.g. abandonment), or the practice of khula, whereby a woman can divorce her husband unilaterally if she pays him a sum of money.[37] Under the new Family Code, the conditions under which a wife can seek a divorce have been broadened, and include ‘inconsolable differences’ and failure to observe conditions included in the marriage contract.[38]  The new Family Code also stipulates that when a divorced couple have children, decisions regarding custody should be made in the best interests of the children; in the majority of cases, custody is now granted to the mother, while the father is obliged to provide financial support.[39] In addition, when a mother has been granted custody of her children, she obtains parental authority over them.[40]  However, in all divorce cases, judges in Family Courts are legally obliged to persuade the couple to reconcile.[41] Provisions in the previous Family Code whereby men who obtained a divorce had the right to keep the family house and immediately evict their wives and children have been removed, although the new Code only appears to allow the children (and by extension their mother) to remain in the family home until such time as the husband has made alternative arrangements to lodge them elsewhere.[42]  If a woman remarries, she loses custody of her children.[43] According to the 2010 Freedom House report, single and divorced women face marginalisation in society.

Amendments made to the Nationality Code in 2005 mean that Algerian women married to men who are not Algerian citizens are now able to pass Algerian citizenship onto their children.[44]

Sharia law applies in the event of inheritance, as governed by the Family Code.[45]  In general, a woman is entitled to the equivalent of half her brother’s (or relevant male relative) share.[46]  In some cases, women are pressured by male relatives to give up their share of the inheritance.[47] But in other families, parents circumvent the existing legislation and re-establish equality between their children by gifting property to female heirs while the owner is still alive.[48] This may reflect a growing refusal among Algerian society to accept unequal inheritance rights, and to challenge this discriminatory institution.

[19] CEDAW (2010) p.14; Marzouki (2010) p.30. See Tamzali (2005) for a full discussion of the previous Family Code and its discriminatory provisions. [20] Marzouki (2010) p.30 [21] Marzouki (2010) p.30 [22] Marzouki (2010) p.37 [23] CEDAW (2010) p.14 [24] CEDAW (2010) p.14 [25] CEDAW (2010) pp.20, 81 [26] United Nations Population Division / DESA (2008).  Data source: Pan-Arab Project for Family Health Survey: A survey programme implemented since 2000 by the League of Arab States. [27] Tamzali (2005) p.16 [28] CEDAW (2010) p.15; Tamzali (2005) p.15. References in both documents are to men taking a second wife.  [29] Ordinance of 27 February 2005 (CEDAW (2010) p.15) [30] CEDAW (2010) p.15 [31] CEDAW (2010) p.15 [32] Marzouki (2010) p.37 [33] CEDAW (2010) p.15; Tamzali (2005) p.13; Marzouki (2010) p.38 [34] CEDAW (2010) p.15 [35] CEDAW (2010) p.16 [36] Tamzali (2005) p.14 [37] Tamzali (2005) p.14; Marzouki (2010) p.39 [38] CEDAW (2010) p.15; Tamzali (2005) p.14 [39] CEDAW (2010) p.16 [40] CEDAW (2010) p.16 [41] CEDAW (2010) p.16 [42] Tamzali (2005) p.13 [43] Marzouki (2010) p.39 [44] Amnesty International (2010) p.62; CEDAW (2010) p.13; Marzouki (2010) p.33 [45] CEDAW (2010) p.13 [46] Marzouki (2010) p.43 [47] Marzouki (2010) p.43 [48] Marzouki (2010) p.43

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

According to the 2010 CEDAW report, legal provisions relating specifically to domestic violence and other forms of violence against women were at that stage being drafted.[49] Currently, the criminal code appears to address inter-generational violence within the family,[50] but not violence between spouses. According to a 2006 government survey, 10% of women reported that they frequently experienced physical violence; this figure is thought to be much lower than the actual incidence of domestic violence.[51] Revisions to the Family Code mean that marriages are now treated as civil contracts between two individuals rather than an arrangement between two families; according to the 2005 CEDAW shadow report, this is an important distinction in terms of enabling women who have been victims of domestic violence to seek assistance from the law.[52] But domestic violence is still treated as a private matter, and many women are unaware of what rights they do have to protection.[53] These factors, along with fear of further violence from their husbands and of victimisation by police and judges, dissuade women who are affected by domestic violence from seeking help.[54] A National Strategy to Combat Violence Against Women is in place for 2007-2011, with the aim of raising awareness about gender-based violence, and putting systems in place to provide support to women who have been affected.[55] However, the lack of infrastructure to support women who are victims of violence remains a challenge.[56]  Some support is available to victims of domestic violence, in the form of shelters and hotlines run by the government and by women’s rights NGOs.[57] 

Rape is a criminal offence in Algeria, with punishments of between five and 20 years in prison, depending on the age of the victim.[58]  However, in the Arabic version of the penal code, the word ‘rape’ (ightisab) is not used; rather, the crime referred to is ‘attack on the honour’ (hatk al-‘ardh).[59] As such, rape becomes more a matter of an attack on the family’s honour, rather than a violent crime against the individual woman, and if the victim is not married, the rapist can avoid punishment by marrying her, and hence ‘expunging her honour’. [60]  It is unclear whether or not the victim’s consent is required in this case. Spousal rape is not recognised as a criminal offence. [61] Sexual harassment is also a criminal offence under Algerian law, following amendments to the Penal Code in 2004.[62]

Women bore the brunt of violence and abuse during Algeria’s 15-year civil war, which lasted from 1991 to 2002. Rape, torture, forced marriage and pregnancy, and murder, for the most part by armed rebel groups, were commonplace, although it is impossible to say with any certainty how many women were affected.[63]  Many of the women who experienced sexual violence during the war were subsequently abandoned by their families and by the state, and have since struggled to achieve a decent standard of living. [64] The official policy of ‘national reconciliation’ has seen amnesty granted to those who committed grave human rights abuses during the civil law, including acts of sexual and gender-based violence against women, denying victims access to justice.[65] In addition, there has never been an official enquiry into the violence experienced by women during this period.[66]

Trafficking is illegal under the Algerian Criminal Code, and under additional legislation introduced in 2009.[67] Victims of trafficking are automatically entitled to legal aid, according to the 2010 CEDAW report.[68] Little data exists as to the extent to which trafficking occurs in Algeria, although the country appears principally to be a transit country for men, women and children trafficked from sub-Saharan Africa into Europe for the purposes of sexual exploitation and forced labour.[69] 

Knowledge of contraception is very high, according to the 2010 CEDAW report, apparently as a result of campaigns run by the government and NGOs to raise awareness of contraception, and the provision of free services through a network of clinics.[70] According to a 2010 UNFPA report, 61% of sexually active women reported using some form of contraception, although this included so-called ‘traditional’ methods.[71]  In rural areas in particular, medical facilities are inadequate, limiting women’s access to reproductive health services.[72]  Abortion is legal only in cases where the pregnant woman’s health is in danger.[73]

There is no evidence to suggest that female genital mutilation is practised in Algeria.[74]

[49] CEDAW (2010) p.21 [50] See CEDAW (2010) pp.22, 24 [51] Marzouki (2010) p.40 [52] Tamzali (2005) p.11 [53] Marzouki (2010) pp.33, 40 [54] Marzouki (2010) p.40 [55] CEDAW (2010) pp.26-30; Marzouki (2010) p.41 [56] République Algérienne Démocratique et Populaire, Ministère Délégué Chargé de la Famille et de la Condition Féminine (2007),  pp.58-60  [57] CEDAW (2010) pp.33-34; Marzouki (2010) p.41 [58] CEDAW (2010) p.23 [59] Marzouki (2010) p.34. In the French version of the Penal Code, the French word for ‘rape’ (viol) is used. [60] Marzouki (2010) p.34 [61] Marzouki (2010) p.34 [62] CEDAW (2010) p.23; Marzouki (2010) p.46 [63] Tamzali (2005) p.21 [64] Tamzali (2005) p.21; Marzouki (2010) p.52  [65] Amnesty International (2010) p.60 [66] Tamzali (2005) p.21 [67] CEDAW (2010) p.60. Law number 09-01 of 25 February 2009. Freedom House (2010) [68] CEDAW (2010) p.61 [69] CIA (2010) [70] CEDAW (2010) p.90; Marzouki (2010) p.51 [71] UNFPA (2010) p.94 (no data source provided). [72] CEDAW (2010) p.103; Marzouki (2010) p.51 [73] UNDP (2007) [74] UNICEF (2005) p.12

Son Bias: 

Infant and under-five mortality rates are higher for boys than for girls, according to the 2010 CEDAW report and to UNFPA.[75]  Gender-disaggregated data for malnutrition and immunisation rates are not available. According to a 2007 UNICEF report, primary school attendance rates are very high for boys (94%) and girls (93%) in Algeria, while secondary school net enrolment rates are slightly higher (68%) for girls than for boys (65%). [76]  Rates for enrolment in tertiary education are also higher for women then for men.[77]

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.01.[78] Analysis of sex ratios across age groups indicates that Algeria is a country of concern in relation to missing women, however there has been improvement since 2009.

[75] CEDAW (2010) p.20; UNFPA (2010) p.100 [76] UNICEF (2007) p.118. See also Marzouki (2010) p.44 [77] Marzouki (2010) p.44 [78] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Under the Constitution and the Family Code, women have the right to own and use land and other forms of property.[79]  When a woman marries, she can retain property, and dispose of that property without permission from her husband.[80]  However, many women delegate decision-making in regard to land and property to their husband or male relatives.[81] Launched in 2006, the government’s Rural Renewal Policy – designed to revitalise rural areas and boost sustainable development – appears to be gender blind, and does not specifically target or support rural women.[82] 

By law, women in Algeria have the right to access bank loans and are free to negotiate business or financial contracts.[83]  In practice though, very few women run businesses.[84] The government provides loans and grants for agricultural development to women and men on an equal basis, although in practice, the number of women applying for such assistance is very small.[85]  In practice, it is very difficult for women to secure commercial loans, as they frequently lack the capital needed to secure credit.[86] 

[79] Marzouki (2010) p.43 [80] FAO et al (2004) p.32; Marzouki (2010) p.39 [81] Marzouki (2010) p.43 [82] CEDAW (2010) pp.93-95 [83] Marzouki (2010) p.45 [84] Marzouki (2010) p.45 [85] CEDAW (2010) pp.100-101 [86] CEDAW (2010) p.103

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

Under the Algerian Family Code, married women do not enjoy full freedom of movement, as decisions regarding where the married couple will live are the sole prerogative of the husband. [87]  However, as the report to the CEDAW committee notes, in contemporary Algerian society, this is impractical, particularly for professional couples where both spouses work, and so this legal provision is not, in general, enacted.[88]  Provisions under the previous Family Code that meant women had to obtain their husband or guardian’s permission to obtain a passport have been removed. [89]

Freedom of expression is not respected in Algeria, with criminal defamation charges used to silence those speaking out against the authorities.[90] Coverage of ‘women’s issues’ in the media is frequently polemical and sensationalist.[91] Freedom of association is also restricted: NGOs, including women’s rights groups, are tightly regulated by the government.[92]

Women and men have the same right to vote and to stand for office in Algeria, and men no longer have the right to vote on behalf of their wives (as was previously allowed under the Electoral Code).[93] Following amendments made in 2008, article 31 of the Constitution now also formally acknowledges women’s ‘political role’ in the country.[94] That said, women remain under-represented in political life in Algeria, and in general, there are few women in Algeria occupying senior decision-making positions.[95] As of early 2011, there were 30 women in Algeria’s National People’s Assembly (out of 389 – 7.7%),[96] and seven in the Council of the Nation (out of 136 – 5.15%).[97] There is an active and vocal women’s rights movement in Algeria, which has grown considerably in the last ten years.[98]  Women’s rights organisations have been active in calling for the introduction of a gender quota for national and local level elections, as well as providing practical support to women in need, literacy training, and services to victims of domestic violence.[99] Women are also very active in community and mosque-based groups.[100]

Pregnant women are entitled to 14 weeks’ paid maternity leave in Algeria.[101] Discrimination on the basis of gender in employment is illegal, and women and men are legally entitled to receive equal pay for equal work.[102] However, according to the 2005 shadow report to the CEDAW committee, discrimination against women in regard to hiring practices and remuneration is widespread, particularly in the private and informal sectors.[103] In contrast to the high levels of girls and women in secondary and tertiary education, women’s employment levels in Algeria are low and many women stop working when they marry.[104]

[87] CEDAW (2010) p.13 [88] CEDAW (2010) p.13 [89] Marzouki (2010) p.37 [90] Amnesty International (2010) p.61 [91] Marzouki (2010) p.49 [92] Marzouki (2010) p.35 [93] CEDAW (2010) pp.12, 62 [94] Marzouki (2010) p.32 [95] CEDAW (2010) p.62; Marzouki (2010) p.49 [96] Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-a). [97] Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-b) [98] Marzouki (2010) pp.31-32 [99] CEDAW (2010) pp.65, 68, 96 [100] Marzouki (2010) p.52 [101] ILO (2009); CEDAW (2010) p.77 [102] CEDAW (2010) pp.12, 77; Marzouki (2010) p.46 [103] Tamzali (2005) p.5 [104] Marzouki (2010), pp.44, 46 


Having previously formed part of the Ottoman, and then the French Empire, Algeria gained independence from France in 1962, following a decade of independence struggle.[1] After several decades of peace during which a multi-party electoral system was introduced, violence broke out between government forces and the Islamic Salvation Front following elections in 1991 (at which the latter won the majority of the vote).[2] Civil conflict disrupted the economy for many years, but recently, Algeria’s wealth has grown, due to the discovery of significant oil and gas reserves.[3] Algeria is classed as an upper-middle income country by the World Bank.[4] Overall though, poverty and unemployment remain widespread, particularly among young people, a factor contributing to demonstrations occurring in the country at the time of writing (February 2011).[5] The majority religion is Sunni Islam, but there are also very small Jewish and Christian minorities.[6]

Algerian women played a key role in the struggle for independence, but subsequently saw their concerns subsumed by nationalist objectives.[7] During the violence of the 1991-2002 civil war, women faced particular threats to their security.[8] Recent changes to the Family Code have significantly improved women’s legal rights in Algeria, but the capacity of women to be active and visible in the public sphere, and to be economically autonomous, remains constrained by legal and social restrictions. Women’s unemployment is estimated to be at 21%.[9]

Under the Algerian Constitution (amended in 2008), women enjoy the same civil and political rights as men and have the status of full citizens (articles 29 and 31).[10] But in their personal status, women’s rights are governed by the Family Code, which is in part based on Sharia law,[11] and which discriminates against them. Algeria ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) in 1996, but with reservations.[12] It has not ratified the Optional Protocol on violence against women.[13] As of August 2010, Algeria had signed but not ratified the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.[14] A Ministry of Women’s Affairs was created in 2006.[15]

[1] CIA (2010); BBC (n.d.) [2] CIA (2010); Freedom House (2010) [3] BBC (n.d.) [4] World Bank (n.d.) [5] BBC (n.d.) [6] CIA (2010) [7] Marzouki (2010) p.29 [8] Marzouki (2010) p.30 [9] World Bank (2011) [10] FAO et al (2004) p.7; CEDAW (2010) pp.12, 22; Marzouki (2010) p.32 [11] FAO et al (2004) p.7; CEDAW (2010) p.13 [12] United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.); Amnesty International (2010) p.62; FAO et al (2004) p.4; CEDAW (2010) pp.12-13 [13] United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.) [14] African Union (2010) [15] CEDAW (2010) pp.14, 55


African Union (2010) ‘List of countries which have signed, ratified/acceded to the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa’ (as of 27 August 2010). (accessed 15 October 2010)

Amnesty International (2010) Amnesty International Report 2009, State of the World’s Human Rights, London: Amnesty International. (accessed 8 November 2010)

BBC (n.d.) ‘Algeria country profile’, (accessed 14 February 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2010) World Factbook: Algeria, online edition, (accessed 14 February 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at (accessed 14 March 2012)

Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) (2010) ‘Consideration of reports submitted by States parties under article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women Combined third and fourth periodic reports of States parties Algeria’, CEDAW/C/DZA/3-4, CEDAW, New York

Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), International Land Coalition(ILC) (2004), ‘Rural Women’s Access to Land and Property in Selected Countries: Progress Towards Achieving the Aims of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women’, FAO Gender and Population Division, IFAD Technical Advisory Division, and ILC, Rome. (accessed 4 December 2010)

Freedom House (2010) Freedom in the World Country Reports: Algeria, online edition, (accessed 14 February 2011)

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009) Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, (accessed 8 February 2011)

Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-a) ‘Algeria: Al-Majlis Al-Chaabi Al-Watani (National People's Assembly)’, (accessed 8 February 2011)

Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-b) ‘Algeria: Majlis al-Oumma (Council of the Nation)’, (accessed 8 February 2011)

International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), (n.d.), country profile: Algeria, (accessed 8 February 2011)

Marzouki, Nadia (2010) ‘Algeria’, in Sanja Kelly and Julia Breslin, eds., (2010) Women’s Rights in the Middle East and North Africa, New York, NY: Freedom House; Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield

Tamzali, Wassyla (2005) ‘Rapport Alternatif L’Algérie et la Convention des Nations Unies de 1979 sur l’Elimination de toutes les formes de discriminations à l’égard des femmes’, Collectif 95 Maghreb Egalité, Algiers

République Algérienne Démocratique et Populaire, Ministère Délégué Chargé de la Famille et de la Condition Féminine (2007), Stratégie Nationale de Lutte contre la Violence à l'égard des Femmes .

United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at (accessed 29 February 2012)

UNDP (2007)’World abortion policies’, data downloaded from (accessed 21 October 2010).

UNICEF (2005) ‘Changing a harmful social convention: female genital mutilation/cutting’, Innocenti Digest, UNICEF Innocenti Research Centre, UNICEF, Florence

UNICEF (2007) State of the World’s Children : the Double Dividend of Gender Equality, New York: UNICEF

United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) (2010) State of the World’s Population 2010. From conflict and crisis to renewal: generations of change, UNFPA, New York

United Nations Population Division / DESA (2008) World Marriage Data. Available to download at (accessed 11 October 2010)

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-          CEDAW: (accessed 8 February 2010)

-          Optional Protocol: (accessed 8 February 2010)

World Bank (2011), Country brief: Algeria,,,contentMDK:20188043~pagePK:141137~piPK:141127~theSitePK:312509,00.html (accessed 5 March 2012)

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World Economic Forum (2010) ‘The Global Gender Gap Index 2010 rankings’, (accessed 22 November 2010)

World Economic Forum (2011) The Global Gender Gap Report 2011, available at (accessed 2 March 2012)



Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
Legal Age of Marriage: 
Early Marriage: 
Parental Authority: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
Violence Against Women (laws): 
Female Genital Mutilation: 
Reproductive Integrity: 
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
Missing Women: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
Access To Land: 
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
Access To Public Space: 
Political Participation: 
Political Quotas: