Op-Ed: International Women’s Day: Will Libya’s new government honour its women?

By Amal Creui.

Humulat (Payloads) depicting women gracefully carrying men, including a dead and a depressed man by Libyan female artist Najla Shawkat Fitouri (Photo: Najla Shawkat Fitouri).

8 March 2021:

 

International Women’s Day on 8 March is a global day for celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. But coincidently, this 8 March also marks the day Libya’s parliament votes on the country’s new proposed government.

Will this new government celebrate women’s day and honour their important place in society, or will it put them aside as a marionette, often hidden in the background, with a concealed face as often used on public posters in many election campaigns? Unfortunately, women still face significant cultural, socio-economic, and political barriers to accessing leadership.

We are far from gender equality. What we are aiming for right now is a good representation of our girls and women as a step forward in the right direction. Previous governments have not voiced out or recognized the importance of women in our society. They have done so by limiting or ignoring women’s potential. Obviously, they were more interested in playing musical chairs on who takes what and where in top government positions, with no room for women to take part.

We have all seen a huge change in women in Libya especially as entrepreneurs. They do support their families financially, and many of them are the sole breadwinner. Many Libyan women run small businesses on Facebook selling clothes, cakes and makeup. There are also very talented and smart women who own coffee shops and chocolate stores not only in Libya but also abroad. Some of these projects are small but some are big businesses that manage to make a great and successful revenue.

Also, wonderful Libyan women artwork that is being showcased in many exhibitions around the world. Clearly, we do have very capable women that can make a change in our transitional phase. Women can be bigger key players in Libya’s economic wheel and growth, yet politically we are very far behind and probably used just as a façade to show the western world that we are part of the leadership.

The meaningful participation of women in national, local, and community leadership roles has become an important focus in global development policy. We have to include women in decision making policies as they are a core part of our society. We have to recognize that without this change Libya will not be able to move forward.

Kofi Annan noted, “study after study has taught us, there is no tool for development more effective than the empowerment of women. No other policy is as likely to raise economic productivity”.

For the new Libyan (Abd Alhamid Aldabaiba) government to succeed it has to include women in the decision making process and to play a lead role in these decisions. It is also crucial that women are protected and feel safe when they voice their opinion. Key (male) figures should stop being selfish and recognize that Libya will not move forward by focusing on what they will gain out of their position but what can they give. Libyan women have sacrificed everything during this transitional period. We have to move on from isolating and victimizing women to proper representation and empowerment.

 

Amal Creui is a graduate in Fashion Marketing and former host at Radio Zone. She is currently living in Dubai.

The views in this article do not necessarily reflect those of Libya Herald.

This article was contributed by the writer as part of a series of pieces by several Libyan females, in and outside Libya, invited by Libya Herald to reflect on International Women’s Day – ten years on from Libya’s 2011 February revolution.

 

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