“Communiqué de l’Espace de résistances féminines” — a statement on women’s organising in Algeria.

The Espace de résistances féminines, or Feminine Resistances Space (ERF) is an offshoot of the Parti socialiste des travailleurs (PST). The former group’s 3 April statement is explicit about the connection; the latter’s name in Arabic is clear in the photo above.

Less obvious is the history of the radical left in Algeria. The Anglophone historiography on the country is relatively sparse (as analysed in a 2017 lecture by regional historian Michael Willis), and even the most popular French essays on the country— Arezki Metref’s 2018 ‘The Bluntedness of the Algerian Left’, say — remain untranslated.

In their 3 April statement, the ERF wrote that Algerian feminists have suffered a ‘sort of lethargy’, though ‘with the popular movement of the 22 February, they have renewed their struggle’ . Understanding this renewal implies some appreciation of that lethargy — ‘hébétude’, as Metref called it — demanding, in turn, efforts outside Algeria itself.

The translators have retained the original ‘féminines’. The declaration was published on 17 May.

Communiqué of the Feminine Resistances Space

The popular movement triggered on 22 February has revealed, in regards to the question of women, the reality of Algerian society: conservative, and bowed to a hegemonic religiosity.

The raising of the woman question on 8 March [1], through slogans calling for equality between men and women and, after, the attacks against feminist militants on 29 March [2], have kindled the spirits and prompted sometimes violent responses — a reminder, if needed, that women are victims of everyday verbal and physical aggressions in public space, at their places of work, and even in the family, and that this question is essential for building the Algeria of tomorrow.

The struggle for women’s rights is, in fact, inseparable from all the struggles for freedoms, both democratic and social.

This historic period in which the Algerian people have chosen to create movement demands that women respond to the call, as they have throughout history. They are not merely parts of the movement, until they are given the order to return to their kitchens, but rather forces of reflection, action and resistance against reactionary forces, and bring inspiration to the struggles, for [other] women in particular, and openly participate as citizens in the current political struggles, as based on the principles of self-organisation and the convergence of struggles.

The Feminine Resistances Space, bringing together women of all ages, of every perspective, is a collective born in Algiers on the basis of this reflection. ‘Resistances’, in the plural, signifies that the collective intends to operate on several fronts: the political advocacy especially regarding fundamental demands being the abrogation of the Family Code, the right to education and to work, and the freedom to safely circulate in public space; the organisation of public debates through cultural activities; groundwork and outreach; and documentary work and analysis; as well as co-ordination with other organisations and collectives sharing the same principles or conjunctural questions.

The Feminine Resistances Space is open to all women who follow and share its vision. It also encourages women to organise amongst their families, in their workplace, and in their universities and on university campuses, around issues which challenge them as women, but also in order to prevail in the current workers’ and students’ movements — to do so now, and not remain on the margins.

The Feminine Resistances Space is convinced that the struggle for women’s rights does not concern only women. A society where men and women live harmoniously cannot be built except through an awakening of consciousness in both. The public activities of the Feminine Resistances Space will be open to men wanting to participate in debates and struggles underway.

Finally, the ERF is part of the movement born on 22 February 2019 for an Algeria free and democratic, dedicated to democratic freedoms and social justice.

[1] International Women’s Day, and the date of the 22 February movement’s third ‘Friday protest’.

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