Libyan Women Taking Action for Leadership

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libya-celebrates-tripolitania-small1One of the challenges facing Libya as it builds democracy following the fall of the Muammar Qadhafi regime is the reform of the security sector.[ wananchi wa Libya washerehekea]

The Voice of Libyan Women is celebrating at our Women’s Center in Zawia today for an event for Mother & Children of Martyrs. Please come and join us in the celebration starting at 2:30 PM. The event is for women and children only.There is a contest for the best poem and art piece representing “The Power of Women.” The poems and art pieces will be displayed in our women’s center in Zawiya. We look forward to seeing all the amazing talent!

As we commemorate International Women’s Day, we reflect on our previous projects including International Purple Hijab Day on February 13, 2013. We are still amazed by the incredible work of our 25 partners who put together seminars in over 17 cities across Libya on domestic violence, and reached over 13,000 Libyan (primarily youth). The Voice of Libyan remains committed to the safety and security of Libyan Women.

Today, the Voice of Libyan Women will like to announce our “Combating Violence Against Women: Media Campaign,” which will continue awareness on domestic violence and the importance of national safety and security for women. Please stay tuned to our Facebook page, as we unveil the first part of our media campaign next week. We look forward to any person or organization that will like to be apart of this campaign.

Historically, the Libyan civil war, also referred to as the Libyan revolution[34] was a 2011 armed conflict in the North African state of Libya, fought between forces loyal to Colonel Muammar Gaddafi and those seeking to oust his government. The war was preceded by protests in Benghazi beginning on Tuesday, 15 February 2011, which led to clashes with security forces that fired on the crowd. The protests escalated into a rebellion that spread across the country, with the forces opposing Gaddafi establishing an interim governing body, the National Transitional Council.

The United Nations Security Council passed an initial resolution on 26 February, freezing the assets of Gaddafi and his inner circle and restricting their travel, and referred the matter to the International Criminal Court for investigation.

In early March, Gaddafi’s forces rallied, pushed eastwards and re-took several coastal cities before reaching Benghazi. A further U.N. resolution authorised member states to establish and enforce a no-fly zone over Libya, and to use “all necessary measures” to prevent attacks on civilians.[40] The Gaddafi government then announced a ceasefire, but failed to uphold it,[41] though it then accused rebels of violating the ceasefire when they continued to fight as well. Throughout the conflict, rebels rejected government offers of a ceasefire and efforts by the African Union to end the fighting because the plans set forth did not include the removal of Gaddafi.

In August, rebel forces launched an offensive on the government-held coast of Libya, taking back territory lost months before and ultimately capturing the capital city of Tripoli, while Gaddafi evaded capture and loyalists engaged in a rearguard campaign.

On 16 September 2011, the National Transitional Council was recognized by the United Nations as the legal representative of Libya, replacing the Gaddafi government. Muammar Gaddafi remained at large until 20 October 2011, when he was captured and killed attempting to escape from Sirte. The National Transitional Council “declared the liberation of Libya” and the official end of the war on 23 October 2011.

In the aftermath of the civil war, a low-level insurgency by former Gaddafi loyalists continued. There have been various disagreements and strife between local militia and tribes, including 23 January 2012 fighting in the former Gaddafi stronghold of Bani Walid, leading to an alternative town council being established and later recognized by the NTC. A much greater issue has been the role of militias which fought in the civil war and their role in the new Libya. Some have refused to disarm and cooperation with the NTC has been strained, leading to demonstrations against militias and government action to disband such groups or integrate them into the Libyan military.

The outbreak of the Libyan civil war has been followed by accusations of human rights violations by the rebel forces opposed to Muammar Gaddafi, the Armed Forces and NATO. The alleged violations include rape, extrajudicial killings, racism, misconduct and bombings of civilians. Alleged human rights violations were committed by all sides during the conflict, including NATO, anti-Gaddafi forces, and pro-Gaddafi forces.

LIBYAN WOMEN REVOLTDuring the uprising, a number of Libyans took up arms to confront pro-Qadhafi government forces. Libya’s Women Activists Outraged by Court Ruling on Wives – TRIPOLI — Libya’s Supreme Court has overturned a marriage law requiring a husband to secure the approval of his first wife before taking a second. This ruling on multiple wives has horrified liberals, who fear the clock is being turned back on advances won during the revolution on women’s issues and the small gains already made under former leader Moammar Gadhafi.

Earlier this month, the court quashed the Gadhafi-era Marriage Act (Law 10) requiring men to secure the consent of a first wife before taking a second.

Under the former legislation introduced by the late dictator, a husband had to go to court to seek permission to marry further wives, if he failed to gain approval of the first.

Shahrazad Magrabi, founding director of the non-governmental organization Libyan Women Forum, says the court’s decision to do away with the requirement adds to liberal worries that post-Gadhafi Libya will be more conservative than they hoped when it comes to women’s issues.

“At the beginning, we really were very surprised and very shocked as well. Because it is a right that we had, [and] we were able to get a few years ago and it is very important that women [think] at least they won’t be cheated, you know, because we feel that a person who is married to someone and then going and remarry without her consent is cheating and I don’t think Koran allows that,” said Magrabi.

She says that liberal activists will not accept this decision without a fight. But other women support the ruling because it is in line with Sharia law.

“I am not against the decision because it goes in line with religion, the Islamic religion. The Islamic religion allows a man to have four wives. He has to inform the wife, so the religion says he has to inform the wife if he wanted to get married, but it doesn’t say he has to take permission,” stated Najwan ElHouni. “When Gadhafi had the decree that a man had to get the permission of the woman, he was just trying to get all the women on his side.“

Women played a critical role in the revolution that toppled Mr. Gadhafi — from the perilous smuggling of guns and medicines to organizing media outreach. Now, women activists are upset that Prime Minister Ali Zeidan appointed only two women to his cabinet — as ministers for social affairs and tourism.

When it comes to greater participation in politics, all women activists agree about the need for more involvement by women. But there is a growing division in Libya’s women’s movement when it comes to family issues.

Libyan-Women-rally-Tripoli-631Most women activists accept that a new constitution will be based on Islamic Sharia law and do not see any contradiction between that and their demands for greater gender equality and a bigger role for women.

What concerns the more liberal activists is who interprets Sharia and how men apply it, says Farida Allaghi, a veteran human rights campaigner and founder of the Libyan Forum for Civil Society. “Here again, it is very disappointing and it is very sad that now they play with the interpretation of Islam in the 21st century to fit their agenda and to fit their interests and to fit their own ideology as men. This is not going to be acceptable by Libyan women anymore, anyway.

This is not Islam,” she said. “Islam has been hijacked.”

Liberals are now anxious that other Gadhafi-era laws will be struck down, including a measure that prohibits parents marrying off teenage daughters. And, they are fearful of other retrograde measures being introduced such as requiring women when traveling to be accompanied by a husband or a male relative.

After the revolution, these fighters have to be either included in the national army and other parts of the security sector or reintegrated into civilian life.

Zahra Langhi, a gender specialist and civil society consultant tells UN Radio’s Derrick Mbatha that Libyan women want to participate in this process.

LanghiOne of the challenges facing Libya as it builds democracy following the fall of the Muammar Qadhafi regime is the reform of the security sector.

During the uprising, a number of Libyans took up arms to confront pro-Qadhafi government forces.

After the revolution, these fighters have to be either included in the national army and other parts of the security sector or reintegrated into civilian life.

Zahra Langhi, a gender specialist and civil society consultant tells UN Radio’s Derrick Mbatha that Libyan women want to participate in this process.

UN RADIO LIBYA- LISTEN HERE

lwpplogo1In Libya, Zahra’ Langhi was part of the “days of rage” movement that helped topple the dictator Qaddafi. But — then what? In their first elections, Libyans tried an innovative slate of candidates, the “zipper ballot,” that ensured equal representation from men and women of both sides.

Yet the same gridlocked politics of dominance and exclusion won out. What Libya needs now, Langhi suggests, is collaboration, not competition; compassion, not rage.

Zahra’ Langhi is the cofounder of Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP), a movement advocating for women’s socio-political empowerment and peace-building.

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