Tripoli, 10 March: Former Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril has called on Libyan women to become politically active.
Speaking at a conference on Saturday in Tripoli to mark International Women’s Day, he encouraged women to take part in the country’s developing democracy. They should stand for elections, he said. They should vote. “Women’s votes will make the difference,” he declared.
He also said that women’s rights had begun to be sidelined in the past three or four months of the momentous changes that were the Arab Spring. Women were insufficiently represented in what was happening.
He said that women in Libya should not expect rights to be given to them; they should take them.
Other speakers agreed that Libyan women should take an active part in the upcoming elections, among them Benghazi lawyer Amal Bugaigis. She called for women to go into political life.
The event, which attracted over 600 people, among them many of the most active and powerful women in the country, was also addressed by a number of mothers of young Libyans who had died in last year’s freedom struggle. Their contributions were highly emotional and many in the audience were in tears listening to them.
One described how her daughter was due to have been married the day after she was killed.
Another told how she had tried to persuade her son that it was too dangerous to join protests in what was then Green Square on 20 February last year, where he was shot. Before he left, she recounted, he said: “If I die, I will die proud. If I live, I will live in freedom.”
The event was organised by four groups: the Coaltiion of National Forces, the Association of Families for Charity, the National Support Group and the Committee to Support Women’s Participation in Decision Making.
Meanwhile, prime minister Abdurrahim Al-Kib, at the end of his US visit, has also said that women must play a major role in the new Libya.
Speaking at Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Friday evening he said that he believed that women had to “play a role” in the new Libya “This is not an option,” he said, adding there were “some very smart Libyan ladies” in the audience, among them his minister of social affairs, Mabruka al-Sherif Jibril.
“They will have a place” in the new Libya, he said. [/restrict]