Western Sahara has been the subject of a decades-long territorial dispute between Morocco and the Algerian-backed Polisario Front, having been arbitrarily partitioned between Morocco and Mauritania following the end of Spanish rule. Negotiations in 1991 and 2007 were both unsuccessful, and Western Sahara remains partially governed by Morocco. Algeria continues to host approximately 100,000 refugees in Polisario camps, and a majority of camp administrators are women, although women are still imprisoned for adultery and are excluded from the highest ranking posts. Women have actively participated in the Polisario independence movement as both fighters and peaceful protesters, including acting as leaders in the National Union of Saharawi Women, which serves on the frontlines. Based on the work of NGOWG members and their partners, the NGOWG advocates for including a human rights monitoring and reporting presence that encompasses gender considerations in the the UN Mission for the Referendum in Western Sahara (MINURSO) mandate.
September 30, 2012