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7 things to do in 7 months:
A human rights roadmap to elections

5: Support and promote the rights of women in politics

Current Progress:

Failed
Failed

Ensure voter registration is accessible to all women, regardless of their social status, including their marital status;

Some Progress

Promote an enabling public and political environment that is free from threats, harassment and reprisals for all women, to ensure their full and equal capacity to hold and take part in political campaigns ahead of the elections;

  • On 15 August, Horia Tarmal, the Minister of State for Women's Affairs, further discussed with Aguila Saleh, the Speaker of the HoR, the draft law for the protection of women and the role of the HoR in ensuring the participation of women in the elections.
Failed

Ensure the minimum quota of 30% for women as set out in the roadmap is implemented immediately;

FAILED

Ensure that crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, including online violence against women, are investigated and those responsible are held accountable.

  • On 3 August, UNSMIL, UNDP & UN WOMEN supported HNEC in organising a webinar on violence against women during elections. The webinar was attended by State Minister of Communications & Political Affairs, a wide range of experts, and representatives of local and international organisations. The webinar addressed ways to protect and promote women participation in the upcoming elections: participants formulated recommendations on how to address violence against women and to increase their political participation.
  • As mentioned above (see goal 1), the GNU proposed two draft budgets this month in which funds are allocated to militias like the ISA, who have in the past abducted and unlawfully detained women for their perceived opposition to the Libyan Arab Armed Forces. For example, ISA Benghazi members abducted Haneen al-Abduli after she publicly called for accountability for the killing of her mother, lawyer Hanan al-Barassi. Haneen al-Abduli was detained from 5 March 2021 until 28 June 2021. If the HoR approves the GNU’s new budget in the next few days, not only will militias receive funds, they may also not be held accountable for crimes committed against women.

Past progress:

What is the problem?

Libyan women face many restrictions to their rights in both the personal and public spheres, with the current Libyan legal framework failing to promote gender equality.

Although Libyan women played a crucial role in the 2011 uprising, their participation in political life has suffered a setback in the following years. While in the 2012 elections, women made up 45% of all registered voters, this number slowly but surely decreased in the successive elections to reach 39%. This is mainly because Libyan women have faced, and continue to face, significant obstacles in exercising their right to equal participation in building Libya’s future. Key amongst these are current gender stereotypes and social norms that shape their roles and opportunities in society and the disproportionate impact of the conflict on women.

Since 2014, women have been particularly affected by the prevalent climate of insecurity and routinely subjected to attacks, which have effectively forced them out of public life. Women activists and politicians have been subjected to sexual and gender-based violence in the form of both physical and online violence, including threats, physical assault, abduction, as well as gender-related slurs and smear campaigns, causing them reputational damage to undermine the legitimacy of their work. Systematic reputational attacks on women and the resulting social marginalisation and psychological trauma have caused women and women’s rights defenders to withdraw from both public and political spaces. As a result, voices raising the challenges faced by women are scarce and women remain underrepresented in public and governmental institutions. While under the LPDF Roadmap, the interim executive authority has committed to 30% participation of women in the government, women’s current representation remains only at 15%.

What you must do about it

Better representation and gender balance in politics are essential for a properly functioning democracy. Therefore, equal and meaningful participation of women in politics must be guaranteed in all fora aimed at laying the foundations for Libya’s transition to peace, stability and development. To guarantee this, you must:

  • Ensure voter registration is accessible to all women, regardless of their social status, including their marital status;
  • Promote an enabling public and political environment that is free from threats, harassment and reprisals for all women, to ensure their full and equal capacity to hold and take part in political campaigns ahead of the elections;
  • Ensure the minimum quota of 30% for women as set out in the Roadmap is implemented immediately;
  • Ensure that crimes of sexual and gender-based violence, including online violence against women, are investigated and those responsible are held accountable.