Report | 2014

Executive Summary

The Occupied Territories of the Western Sahara, located in North Africa between Morocco and Mauritania, contain one of the oldest peaceful political resistance movements in the entire region. The Sahrawi people of the Western Sahara are a historically marginalized population that has been demanding their right to self-determination for decades, but whose pursuit of democratic statehood and human rights has been violently suppressed. The resistance movement is led and organized predominantly by Sahrawi women from different generations. Due to the difficulty of accessing the territories for research purposes, little is known and published about the activists within the territories and the roles women fill as they lead this movement. This paper examines the roles of Sahrawi women in leadership positions and projects of resistance throughout the Occupied Territories of the Western Sahara. Specifically the analysis focuses on how Sahrawi women understand the effect of military occupation on their resistance projects, participation, and daily lives. The findings of this study are based on a six-week long field study during which dozens of interviews were conducted with women activists and non- activists in the Sahrawi community.

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