By Adela Suliman.
Tripoli, 10 March 2014:
International Women in Libya (IWIL) celebrated its one year anniversary on Saturday 8 March at the Corinthia Hotel, where the organisation was launched 12 months ago.
This local network for Libyan and expatriate women professionals living and working in Libya, now has 350 registered members from over 40 countries and meets each month in Tripoli, to network, socialize and share cultures.
The anniversary event also coincided with International Women’s Day and in concurrence with this years IWD theme “inspiring change,” the women who attended, inspired each other by sharing the personal and professional journeys which had led them to Libya.
Juliet from the UK, inspired members with her talk of growing up on a farm in wartime Britain, working hard in her outdoor lifestyle, before getting involved in the UK’s bourgeoning jazz scene. Juliet later met her Libyan husband, which led her to Tripoli in the 1960s.
Juliet shared with members other work she had undertaken whilst in the UK with refugees and drug abusers, which she thoroughly enjoyed. Having experienced both Libyan revolutions, she urged members not to be set-back by challenges, but to take heart as another opportunity is always around the corner.
Ibtisam Ben Amer, was also present at the IWIL event and shared her journey which started in Benghazi marrying at 16, then studying at university and taking her final exams just one month after giving birth. After some time working hard as a diplomat’s wife, Ibtisam became a successful businesswoman and chocolatier.
In 2013 she became chairwoman of the Libyan Women in Business Committee, board member of the Tripoli Chamber, and was recently elected to the Arab British Chamber board of directors. She encouraged female entrepreneurs in Libya and the development of the private sector, inspiring IWIL members with her hard work and motivation.
IWIL members also heard from Rafa, a young Fulbright scholar and lecturer at Tripoli University and Glynis a well travelled teacher from South Africa. The 75 women who attended then shared their own inspiring journeys, whilst enjoying refreshments and pizza in Corinthia’s Venezia Restaurant.
The group will be gathering next for an “Eat & Meet” lunch, and in April for the monthly networking event.
The IWIL network was founded by Yolanda Zaptia and Adela Suliman (Twitter: @ASBintBattuta)