She was born in El Asnamen, Algeria. Her parents installed themselves in Algiers in 1947, where she followed her studies in the Lycée Pasteur (high-school). She adhered to the Scout Movement and discovered the Algerian people's misery by travelling. This motivated her to take membership in the Union Générale des Étudiants Musulmans Algériens (General Union of Algerian Muslim Students) in 1954, aged sixteen. Hassiba Ben Bouali participated in the nationalist struggle until her death. Participating to the Battle of Algiers, she and three companions including Ali Ammar (aka Ali La Pointe) were killed in 1957 when French forces bombed their hideout in the Casbah in Algiers.
One of the largest avenues in Algiers and the University of Chlef were named after her.