By Issraa Murabit.
Zawia, 31 January:
The One Voice 2013: New Horizons had many ups and one notable down. The conference took place . . .[restrict]at the Rixos Al-Nasr Hotel in Tripoli from January 26th-28th with 150 participants from 26 Libyan cities.
These ranged from the major cities like Tripoli, Benghazi, and Sebha, to little-known cities deep in the south like Traghin, Jalo, Al-Ghrayfa, Obari, and other cities rarely included in national events like Tobruk, Zintan, Yefren, Gharyan, and Sirte.
The closing ceremony was a momentous event. This year, the women’s rights NGO the Voice of Libyan Women, the core organizer of the annual One Voice Conference, unveiled three awards to be given out annually.
The night began with what was meant to be its high – an address by the Head of the General National Congress, Mohamed Magarief. But this turned into a low when it was interrupted by a ruckus in the back of the hall by a persistent heckler. With emotions flying high as a result, Magarief did not get to speak and the next speaker of the evening was Zuhra Kharbash – an early leader of the Girl Guides movement in Libya in the 1960s.
After giving thanks to the organizers of the event, she stressed the importance of volunteerism and awareness raising. She emphasized the importance of women’s role in disarmament of the country’s weapons and highlighted that the only way to create a safe Libya was by engaging the youth – something that is most effectively done by women.
The conference’s final recommendations followed. This year’s conference focussed on two main topics. The first being the constitution, and the second being security. Ibtessam Bheh presented the constitutional recommendations, and Dr. Suhair Shebani followed with the recommendations on safety and security.
Certificates of thanks were given to partner organizations Attawasul Association, Together We Build It Movement, the Tripoli Women’s Union, and the Committee to Support Women in Decision Making.
The event was funded by the German Foreign Office, and German Ambassador to Libya Rainer Eberle presented each organization with their certificate. They in turn were also awarded for their support.
The unveiling of the appreciation awards then followed. The first award, named after the well-known women’s rights activist and broadcast journalist Khadija Al-Jahmi, was given for outstanding public representation of women. The winner was Rabiaa Al-Kormaji, co-founder of Mothers of Martyrs Organization in Zawia, cancer survivor, and activist extraordinaire.
The second award, the Hamida Al-Anazi award, was given for innovative initiative. Hamida Al-Anazi is considered the founder of the women’s rights movement in Libya – educated in Turkey, on her return to Libya she began teaching girls and women out of her family home at a time when education for girls was considered unnecessary.
This was awarded to Nebras Attia from Darnah, journalist and founding member of Ahalina (Our Families) Charity, who has worked excessively with youth.
The final award is the partnership award, given to a male showing extraordinary support to the Libyan women’s movement. This was awarded to Dr. Mohamed Murabit for his constant and continued support of the Voice of Libyan Women.
Speakers and participants were also given certificates for their hard work over the fully packed three days of the conference.
Lastly, the evening finished with the handing out of Activist Toolkits to all those present. The toolkit contained information on both the constitution as well as a research paper on women’s perceptions of security in Libya done by the Voice of Libyan Women. It also included all materials necessary for International Purple Hijab Day on February 13th – a day dedicated to standing against violence against women. Included were flyers, surveys, a purple Hijab, and a USB full of further information and a powerpoint presentation to be used by activists throughout the country to teach about violence against women and in particular domestic violence. It also included a small flyer for the launching of a website dedicated to networking NGOs throughout Libya at www.voices.ly. [/restrict]