TRIPOLI, 08 March 2020 - Today, the world celebrates International Women’s Day, which is marked globally under the theme of “I am Generation Equality: Realizing Women’s Rights”. Twenty-five years since the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and twenty years since the adoption of UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security and its subsequent resolution, 2020 is the year for gender equality and confronting persistent barriers against gender equality.
Libyan women have been at the forefront of calling for peace in Libya and for a greater role for women in the peace processes at the national and international levels. Libyan women’s diverse achievements and their inspirational contributions in peacebuilding efforts are finally being recognized at the global fora; they carved their names on the list of BBC’s 100 most influential women, scored a Noble Peace Prize nomination and made the cut in Forbes Africa’s 50 most powerful women. Furthermore, women have come together finding innovative solutions to build momentum and unite peacebuilding activities, occupying online spaces, new media and connecting through new technologies.
Women, including young women, have been entering the private sector and initiating transformative and diverse business. This entrepreneurship and talent permeates a variety of sectors, where women and young women from diverse parts of Libya are transforming stereotypes through art, film, music, academia and in the education sector. Leveraging their diverse expertise available is critical to promoting the independence and dignity of Libyan women and to investing in sustainable solutions for a brighter future for Libya.
The UN in Libya continues its outreach and advocacy to encourage Libyan authorities to better address the needs of women and to fully integrate them in decision-making processes. It is undeniable, however, that the renewed hostilities have diverted the attention and resources and resulted in disproportionate effect on Libyan women and girls.
Libyan women continue to face fear of reprisals, stigma, and entrenched gender-based inequality. A lack of trust and confidence in the justice system remains a blockage for protecting the civic space and strengthening the role of female human rights defenders and political activists. Almost eight months since the abduction of House of Representative elected member Seham Sergewa, a transgression which generated a chilling impact on the work of women activists in Libya, the UN continues to stress that silencing the voices of women in decision-making positions and human rights activists will not be tolerated. We remain strongly committed to support the crucial role Libyan women play in peacemaking and peacebuilding and their full participation and involvement in the country’s political life and decision-making.
Women and girls in conflict and insecure environments remain among the most vulnerable group facing different forms of violence during displacement and the breakdown of protection systems and access to legal justice. The 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan for Libya indicates that an estimated 212,000 women are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance, an estimated 179,000 women face challenges in accessing health services in addition to 162,000 women facing protection issues, including gender-based violence.
Furthermore, women migrants face further vulnerabilities, reporting increased unemployment rates showing how socio economic and structural factors present further challenges.
The UN in Libya works with diverse partners including civil society, government counterparts, the private sector and academic institutions to respond to the diverse needs of women and girls across Libya. Women continue to demonstrate their in depth understanding of the economic and social development of their communities, and continue to break down barriers to access to their rights and choices and building a more gender-equal community.
The UN in Libya is working with the Libyan authorities, finding solutions to end violations, and working with local partners on providing much needed assistance. It has also been supporting women’s access to justice in Libya with relevant counterparts and promoted the importance of women in the police. The UN in Libya is also supporting women’s participation in leadership positions. Women hold influential positions at the municipal and local governance levels, and in strategic planning meetings with the Urban Planning Agency women hold high-level positions. But as is often the case, when decisions are being made, women, youth and civil society are often excluded.
Above all, it is clear that supporting civil society is critical to supporting a sustainable peaceful future in Libya alongside the achievement of gender equality and an inclusive society. Across the country, women are mobilizing to respond to the needs of their communities, leading civil society organizations and working at the forefront of the humanitarian crisis.
The UN will continue to ensure strengthening of the gender perspective throughout the ongoing consultations for the three UN lead tracks (economic, political and military) discussions, as well as provide support to women to secure their meaningful participation at all levels and integrate gender equality in the given agendas within the political dialogue.
The UN family wishes all Libyan women and girls a Happy International Women’s day.