Message of the SRSG for Libya Mr. Tarek Mitri on International women’s Day 2013

7 Mar 2013

Message of the SRSG for Libya Mr. Tarek Mitri on International women’s Day 2013

Only three weeks ago, Libya marked the second anniversary of its revolution, a revolution the people of this country have made enormous sacrifices to achieve. This would not have been possible if it wasn't for the women and men struggling together and hand-in-hand to win their freedom after decades of dictatorship.

As we celebrate together the International Women's Day we must not miss the fact that you, the women of Libya, played a significant role in sparking this revolution and throughout it. In Benghazi two years ago, women protesters ignited the demonstrations which engulfed the country and ultimately led to the regime's downfall.

We remember too well the courage of the women then, whether in the protests, at the battle fronts or the Social Media frontlines which were as important during the struggle. Or the mother who prayed for her Thuwar children before going to fight or the sister, the daughter and the wife who treated the injured or those who wept for the loss of loved ones.

There were many who provided shelter and food to the Thuwar at great personal risk when such an act would have resulted in certain death. There were those among you who made the ultimate sacrifice or whose dignity was violated. Each Libyan woman contributed to this revolution, and the women and girls of this country deserve the salute and respect of a grateful nation.

The courage of those women then can only be matched by your courage since then and through today as you work tirelessly and with resolute motivation to advance the cause of women and the country at large.

You have proven your commitment to creating a new Libya, struggling with conviction as individuals or through non-government organizations to cement the achievements and the gains made so that your families and children can have a better future. This is of extreme importance for the country as it navigates its way to the shores of peace and prosperity.

Women participation in the country's first free elections in over four decades was a testament to that commitment to be a main foundation to nation-building. Women, just like men, enthusiastically lined up in large numbers outside polling stations to proudly cast their votes. Women candidates ran and were elected to the General National Congress.

In the government, there are two women Cabinet ministers. Congresswomen recently formed their own caucus to further their common goals as women.

Women have a principal role to play at this important period in Libya's history as preparations are underway for elections of a Constitution-Drafting Assembly, to be followed by the process of drafting the country's constitution and then putting the proposed constitution to a referendum.

The Constitution is a milestone in Libya's democratic transition towards stability and prosperity. Representation and meaningful participation of women in state institutions, in all aspects of the Constitution-Drafting Assembly elections and in the constitution-making process will significantly contribute to the building of the new Libya.

This is your opportunity to make your voice heard and to leave your mark, particularly on issues related to women and their rights, as well as on all national matters pertaining to the country and its future.

The United Nations in Libya will continue to work with our Libyan friends to support them in the democratic transition and in what this process requires to empower women and their participation in political life, so as to enhance democracy and contribute to the development and state-building on solid foundations.

Promoting women's rights is a prime priority of the United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL). The Mission will continue in its quest to facilitate the development of appropriate mechanisms to devote to the needs and aspirations of women and address the challenges they face. Key issues include the participation of women in elections, candidates and voters, in the constitutional process; as well as the participation of women in the transitional justice and reconciliation tracks, including aspects relating to missing persons and strengthen national capacities and civil society to safeguard women's rights and to investigate violations. The Mission is also working closely with the United Nations Country Team in Libya to ensure women's participation in development activities.

While the International Women's Day serves as a reminder for women's rights it is also an opportunity for you, the women of Libya, to articulate your political, economic and social aspirations so that you contribute to your country's rebuilding. It is also an opportunity for Libyan men to contribute to a better future in which Libyan women would assume their rightful place as active partners in national life.