Fatma-Zohra Ardjoune: Arab World’s First Woman Army General

Colonel Fatma-Zohra Ardjoune in 2010 made history when she became the first woman to assume the rank of General in the history of Algeria. Also, Ardjoune is the first woman in the Arab world to achieve this great feat of army rank. 

Ardjoune’s appointment followed a presidential decree in 2006, which as part of a modernization plan, established the principle of gender equality in the People’s National Army of Algeria (PNA).

A native of Sétif, Ardjoune grew up in a modest family. She attended her primary studies at the indigenous school. Ardjourne continued her education at the high school for young girls in Kouba (Algiers). 

After high school, she enrolled at the University of Algiers to study medicine in fulfillment of a childhood dream to be the point of help for others, according to an article titled, Algerian army’s ‘benevolent sexism’ by Brian Whitaker. 

An astute academic and military officer, Ardjoune presented her doctoral thesis in medical sciences in 1983, an accomplishment that led to her being promoted to the rank of commander in 1986. In 1991, she was promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel, then with the subsequent rank of colonel in 1996, making her, the first woman promoted to the rank of colonel in Algeria.

A veteran of the Algerian War for Independence, Ardjoune who was already heading the hematology service at the Central Army Hospital in Ain Naâdja, was promoted to the rank of General on July 5, 2009, a promotion that made her the first woman to hold that rank in the Arab world.

The pioneering feat by Ardjoune opened the door for three other women in 2014 to also attain the rank of General in the Algerian Army, making Algeria the top country in the Arab world with women in high-ranking military roles.

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