Essay on Women’s Role in the Battles of Algeria

Published: 2021/12/28
Number of words: 1094

Women in The Battles of Algeria played different roles in the liberation struggle. Like men, women craved independence, a thing that would bring Algeria together. The occupation of the French colonialists used the bodies of Algeria women as a weapon in the political battlefield between the Algerian men and French. The French soldiers raped Algerian women to demoralize them as women considered men their source of honor. As a result, women suffered colonial and patriarchal discrimination (Diwakar). During the period, women took care of household chores, and they had limited access to education. In the middle of domestic and veiling, Algerian women were perceived as custodians of traditional Algerian values by Algerian men to retain control amidst the colonial crisis. At the same time, Frech colonialists struggled to dominate the entire society of Algeria by emancipating Muslim women through the unveiling campaigns from the oppression of the patriarchy system. The French colonialists wanted to convert the Algerian women and save them from the status the Algerian men had given them to control Algerian men and gain the means to destroy the Algerian society’s culture. Thus, French colonialists targeted the veil. However, the veil became a symbol of resistance from French colonialism despite being perceived to impede fighting colonialism. Women devised and carried out violent acts, fought against patriarchy and colonialism, and transformed Algerian society. The Battle of Algier film presents women roles as spies, fundraisers, cooks, combatants, communication and transportation assistance, terrorists, and couriers. Nevertheless, some roles are misinterpreted and overlooked.

Women played important roles during the Algeria war for independence. They used veils to hide messages, weapons, and money and deposited explosives in French quarters. Approximately 10,000 women took part in the Algerian revolution, although most women’s roles were non-military. They served as cooks, nurses, transport assistants. Although women’s roles were limited by the traditions of Algeria, about 2% of the 10,000 women in the revolutionary movements served as couriers, terrorists, carried bombs as depicted in the film (Rohloff 4). Besides, Algerian women took part as “paramilitary fighters, nurses, cooks, fundraisers, and provided logistic support” to the national movement parties ALN (National Liberation Army) and the FLN (National Liberation Front) (Diwakar). Fedayeen, ALN and freedom fighters depict the role of women as enduring liberators. The number grew from 1010 women to 10,949. Most of the FLN movement support originated from peasants from rural areas who assisted in trafficking information, provided food, medicine, and cleaning, and carried the secretarial work. In the urban areas, Fedayeen played the role of liaising between the two national movements, FLN and ALN (Diwakar). Women masked their activities using veils when smuggling cash and arms and ensured the smooth running of the freedom fighters (Moudjahiddine). Besides, they clothed in western attires to slip through the French checkpoints when planting explosives in the French neighborhoods. Their actions were not only bravely but captured the entire world’s imagination.

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Moreover, the women’s roles are depicted in different women presented in the film. For instance, there is a scene where an Algerian woman plants a bomb in a café hosting some European young adults. The scene features Zohra, a 20-year-old lady who is a law student who planted a bomb in one Algeria café in 1956 (Jacobs). As a result, three European young adults succumbed to death while others were injured. Bouhired is among the famous Algerian revolutionists who joined the FLN at 20. She participated in guerilla warfare as a member of Fedayeen but was arrested in 1957. Her arrest played an important role in attracting national attention as women campaigned for her release. Besides, Loisette worked as an FLN courier, showing women’s active movement and commitment to pushing for independence. Baya Hocine is another woman who was a commando in the resistance movement who was sentenced to death but released in 1962 when Algeria gained independence. Achai also participated in the resistance movement and played the role of ambushing French soldiers in specific areas in Algeria. She carried arms. This entrusted women with the use and transportation of weapons and planning and carrying out military operations.

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The Battle of Algier film presents women as having critical roles that reduce the gender inequality in Algeria. Despite few women participating in the fight for independence, all women in Algeria faced violence and acknowledged the courage of the few women who volunteered to fight for independence. They appreciated the participants of the small percentage of women whose role was military and non-military and earned the respect of Algerian men. Despite 10,000 women gaining respect and equality during the war for independence, the participation benefitted all women nationally and instilled hope they would gain both patriarchy and colonial liberation.

However, the role of women are slightly misinterpreted in the film Battle Of Algeria. While the film depicts the military movement of Algeria women, the characters are presented on the screen for a few minutes. Besides, the critical roles of women like Aicha during the war are left unaddressed. In some instances, the film partially addresses the women’s role in aiding the national liberation movements like ANL and FLN and, in some cases, distorts the actual involvement of women in the movements. For instance, women in the better part of the film are silent while, in actual sense, the movements were sustained by close comradeship and debates by both men and women (Rohloff 3). Besides, while most women in the national movement like Hassiba and Zohra were university students, well-educated and capable, the film Battle of Algier doesn’t portray the academic capabilities of the women. The women activists not only took part in the national movement but also took part in debates on political issues and advocated the liberation movement publicly. Besides, women handled salient issues that were sent to the FLN under the El Moudjahid newspaper. For instance, Zohra says that she would handle things that needed to be written.

Work Cited

Diwakar, Amar. “The Role Of Women In The Algerian Independence Movement”. The Role Of Women In The Algerian Independence Movement, 2020 Accessed 9 Nov 2021.

Jacobs, Anna. “Women Of The Algerian Resistance – Public Books”. Public Books, 2018, Accessed 9 Nov 2021.

Rohloff, Caroline. “Reality and representation of Algerian women: The complex dynamic of heroines and repressed women.” (2012).

The Battles Of Algiers. Watchserieshd, 1967,

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