Women, Peace and Security in Libyan Context
25 June 2020 - Full and effective participation of women in public life, including all political processes and peace building initiatives remains essential and a core priority for UNSMIL. Twenty five years following the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which represented a turning point for the global agenda on gender equality, and as we approach the twentieth anniversary of the landmark UN Security Council resolution 1325, the public space for Libyan women to voice their opinions and take an active role in the political life and post-conflict reconstruction is rapidly shrinking.
Women, particularly activists, with political, human rights and civil society backgrounds, can play an instrumental role in any peace process, including in dialogue on reconciliation and accountability, to transition Libya toward a peaceful and democratic future. Libyan women have been at the forefront, calling for peace in Libya and advocating for a greater role for women in peace processes at the national and international levels. Libyan women’s diverse achievements and their inspirational contributions in peacebuilding efforts are recognized in global fora, including the list of BBC’s 100 most influential women, as well as Noble Peace Prize nomination and also inclusion in Forbes Africa’s 50 most powerful women. Furthermore, women have come together providing innovative solutions to build momentum and unite peacebuilding activities, occupying online spaces, new media and connecting through new technologies.
Protection and support of women in Libya to participate actively in the public space without the fear of reprisals remains absent, thereby silencing their voices.
Next month, it will be one year since Member of Parliament Siham Sergewa was violently abducted from her home in the heavily fortified district of Buhedima in Benghazi. On this day, six years ago, former member of the National Transitional Council, human rights defender and activist Salwa Bughaghis was assassinated. Her killing underlined a downwards spiral in security for women activists and human rights defenders to date, and a vicious cycle of impunity for crimes targeting women politicians and human rights defenders. Similarly the summary executions of former Derna House of Representatives member Fariha Al-Berkawi, on 17 July 2014, along with human rights activist Entisar El Hassari, in February 2015, and the journalist Naseeb Kernafa on 29 May 2014 in Sabha, reinforced the climate of impunity for violence against women who dared to speak out, forcing many to retreat from public life and flee the country.
Women in Libya have been disproportionally affected by the continuing conflict and the rise of violent extremism across the country. Incidents of conflict-related sexual violence by armed groups remain severely underreported as a result of fear, intimidation and stigma related to underlying discriminatory gender norms.
On this day, UNSMIL reiterates its call for accountability for crimes targeting women, greater preventative and responsive measures by the authorities to ensure protection, access to emergency assistance and reporting arrangements for all victims without fear of reprisals. The Mission remains committed to empowering and strengthening the role of Libyan women in public life and securing equal participation in peacebuilding and reconciliation processes.