She was an Algerian revolutionary who opposed French colonial rule of Algeria, joined the Algerian National Liberation Front (FLN) while a student activist and has worked as a vocal activist in the movement for women’s rights in independent Algeria.
She worked as a liaison officer and personal assistant of FLN commander Yacef Saadi in Algiers. She was considered valuable to the FLN because she looked European and could easily infiltrate places where French soldiers hung out. She also assisted the FLN, in recruiting young Muslim women from the capital who could pass as Europeans.
Dressed as Frenchwomen, Bouhired and two other female militants placed concealed bombs in the European sections of Algiers. Two bombs exploded, causing civilian casualties; but her bomb failed to detonate.
This event and others were the catalyst for the Battle of Algiers, which raged until 1957. She eluded the French military and police until April 1957, when she was arrested, imprisoned, and subjected to appalling torture.
In July she was sentenced to death by the guillotine after a trial deemed a travesty of justice. However, She became a cause célèbre because of international media coverage of the French army’s systematic use of torture, and was eventually released.
In the early twenty-first century Djamila continued to be actively involved in feminist politics, advocating fundamental transformations in the legal, political, and social status of Algeria’s women.