HERE ME ROAR: The women behind the Algerian revolution.

Author:Benaissa, Sara
 
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Algeria's 'Revolution of Smiles' toppled an entrenched and corrupt elite and has given new hope and energy to Africa's biggest country. But perhaps what is most significant about the revolution is the vital role played by women, as Sara Benaissa reports.

Algeria has been going through a year-long revolution, and the movement isn't due to stop any time soon. It has seen millions of people, including Algerian women, take to the streets in Algeria, France and even London.

It all started with Algerian students in February/march last year. A staggering 70% of the country's population are under the age of 30 and the unemployment rate is 11.7%. Students were fed up with a stagnant and corrupt government, and when then President Abdelaziz Bouteflika put his name on the ballot for a potential fifth term in office, students flocked to the streets in organised, peaceful protests.

They marched in their thousands to demand change and more opportunities for young Algerians. Their protests spread like wildfire on social media, until millions of people of all generations flooded Algerian cities with flags and banners demanding the whole system change.

The demonstrations united the whole country, from the young and disenfranchised to the older battle-weary generation who lived through French-colonised Algeria, independence and a civil war. Algerians marched to see real change in their lifetimes, to witness the biggest country in Africa rise from systemic corruption and walk out of the shadows of civil war.

It is without doubt a rare and historic revolution. It started and has remained peaceful, it toppled a sitting President, put many corrupt officials in prison and is still going strong one year on, even after the Presidential election in December. In fact, the revolution has been nicknamed the Revolution of Smiles because of its positive, peaceful energy and shared humanitarian goals.

The ballerinas of hope

And the Algerian revolution hasn't just brought the old guard to its knees, it's also given the women of Algeria a voice. The country has a high amount of young educated women, but also a history of Islamic fundamentalism which it is slowly but surely shaking off.

Just before the revolution exploded onto the streets, two things were happening for Algerian women. First, young women (and men) had been navigating their lives via social media for years before the "Hirak " revolution started. This generation's youth is no longer as isolated as their...

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