The first-ever International Women's Conference in session
Libyan women want more say in running post-Al Qathafi Libya and suggest that a new government in Libya should ensure the participation of both sexes in political action giving a minimum of 40% for each, with the requirement of capability.
Participation in government was one of the main recommendations by the first-ever International Women’s Conference in Libya, at the end of a most successful five-day event hosted and organised by Voice of Libyan Women movement that also emphasised the importance of women's representation in local, regional and international diplomatic corps.
After hours of discussions during seminars and workshops throughout the duration of the conference the participants decided to make 22 recommendations and urged the state to to sign and ratify all international conventions that protect human rights, especially women and children.
The conference was another clear indication that women can be a great asset to post-Al Qathafi Libya as the new rulers work towards rebuilding the country after years of decay. The women in Libya are showing, that they not only have a voice, but also making every effort to be heard.
The Libyan leaders and fighters who eventually ousted the former Libyan leader from power after 42 years in power, have all recognised the important role Libyan women played in the successful uprising. Now these same women want to have a say in the planning the road map for the rebuilding of the new Libya, and rightly so.
The Libyan women who spent four decades relegated to the role of second class citizens under the former regime are now all out to show that the importance of women in society is not only reserved to making and managing a home for their husbands and be mothers to their children. They have much more to offer.
Their skills and their knowledge could be put to good use by the new leaders of Libya as they plan the future of the country, and the newly-formed Voice of Libyan Women movement, is working hard to get the message across. The Libyan women development NGO is focused on ensuring that women are active and relevant participants in Libyan society, particularly in regards to the political and economic landscape.
In creating this movement, with the collaboration of Attawasul Association, a voluntary Non-Governmental Organisation established in Benghazi in support of a constitutional and democratic Libya, the Voice of Libyan Women says it would like to present “One Voice”.
In the current political climate in Libya it is quite difficult to get the attention of policy makers, and so, in an effort to truly get the message of Libyan women heard, November 11-15, the movement hosted the International Women’s Conference that addressed many of the major topics and debates affecting Libyan women and society today, including politics, religion, business, women’s health, media and the process of NGO creation.
It is the first time that such an event has been held in Libya. The conference at the Radisson Blu Mahari Hotel proved most successful as it discussed themes such as, Women in Politics; Religion and Laws; Investing in Women, and Women's health.
It was most impressive to listen to the discussions that followed each and every subject. On the first day discussion centred on Women in Politics, a taboo subject during the previous regime. The participants contributed to a healthy exchange that focussed on the role of women in political life in the New Libya, and dealt with issues such as quota and the best way to present oneself politically.
Religion and Laws took up the second day's discussion. The role of the law and how to ensure gender equality and issues such as interracial marriage and citizenship of the children. The august gathering pointed out the differences between laws and social customs in Libya, and whether or not certain laws should be introduced, reformed or abolished.
The third day was reserved for a a discussion on Investing in Women: The mechanisms of how to encourage the economic empowerment of women through starting businesses, non-governmental organisations and the media were explored.
The final day was a closed session for women only as they touched on the delicate subject of Women's health issues, including gender-based violence, and the search for possible solutions.
This was followed by an open session that focused on the role of media, schools, universities, social media, as well as youth organisations, and their influence on women's rights and development. It also mentioned how young men and women can become more active in their own communities and take measures to achieve gender equality and women's rights.
As always, the success of conferences such as this is always measured by the final recommendations. If that be so, then the First Global Conference of Women in Libya was truly successful.
The conference decided to make the following recommendations:
1. Achieve the principle of gender equality in rights and duties to ensure the right of citizenship.
2. Amend existing laws in line with international and regional conventions that prevent violence against women and girls, which was ratified by the Libyan government.
3. Affirm the right of citizenship for men and women.
4. Ensure the participation of both sexes in political action giving a minimum of 40% for each, with the requirement of capability..
5. Employ the media to change the stereotypical image of women.
6. Urge the government and civil society institutions to take interest in the issues of the disabled, orphans, and the elderly, especially those of which are women, girls and children.
7. Preparation of a database and statistical information that contains all relevant information regarding women and civil society institutions.
8. Urge the Government to increase attention and focus on capacity-building courses to train and rehabilitate at home and abroad to raise the efficiency of women.
9. Develop a mechanism for coordination between civil society institutions concerned with women in order to prepare a united strategy.
10. Emphasise the importance of women's representation in local, regional and international diplomatic corps.
11. Support programmes that focus on women's reproductive health and maternal and child care.
12. Work to amend the Penal Code so as to enhance the protection of women to reduce violence against women.
13. Activation of the health insurance law to provide full protection for working women.
14. Prevention of racial discrimination against women.
15. State urged to sign and ratify all international conventions that protect human rights, especially women and children.
16. Activate social and political awareness through various media channels and promoting enlightened religious dialogue of the definition of the role of women in society according to Islamic law.
17. Amending the Civil Code which concerns the granting of a Libyan woman married to a non-Libyan man and has acquired the children of Libyan nationality in accordance with the terms of the existing regulation on the law No. 24 / 2010 m booklet comprising the family and her children is to activate the desired end of the law referred to.
18. Support the health sector and emphasise the need for adequate representation of women in this area, especially in the field of primary health, which is not effective in Libya, with an emphasis on the provision of all health services for all women, especially in remote areas.
19. Work on curriculum development in line with the new role played by women within the community by changing the stereotypical image of women.
20. The Establishment of maintenance funds handled by national banks shall be collected from the husband like some Arab and foreign countries rather than the other way around humiliating and embarrassing, which levies a women's financial rights of the court.
21. Amend the Personal Status Law with respect to the last paragraph of Article 65 which specialises in the female not to be the man who is not married to Muharram cuddled and then we stress that affects the amendment of this article so as not to deny women the right to custody of her children on the basis of her marriage for the second time.
22. A representation of the regulatory organisations of civil society in the constitution drafting committee, and that there will be a permanent representation in the supervisory boards of the legislative and executive levels.