UN Report: Libya’s Stabilisation Hinges on Women’s Empowerment – Al Marsad

The UN Women and the United Nations Population Fund published a report that sheds light on the challenges that young women face in Libya to attain political empowerment, to contribute, to shape their future and the future of their country. The report highlighted a persistent lack of security and threat of violence, sexual- and gender-based violence continue to plague women’s lives in Libya.

(Libya, 21 December 2020) —  The report, titled “Deepening Stabilisation in Libya”, coincides with the 20th anniversary of the adoption of Security Council Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and the continuing sessions of the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF).

The lack of protection for Libyan women is compounded by the gendered impacts of conflict, internal displacement, reliance on informal justice mechanisms, and restrictions on mobility, which deprive young women of opportunities to make their voices heard, according to the report.

Additionally, they lack meaningful political representation, and too often, when young Libyan women enter politics, they face further violence and social backlash, discriminatory laws and social norms that impede women’s rights, noted the report.

Due to unequal access to training, capital, and social support, Libyan women are regularly locked out of higher earning private sector jobs, and are often shoehorned into traditional public sector or retail occupations. Although there are many inspiring exceptions, young Libyan women are too frequently excluded from engagement in Libya’s civic and economic life as a result of these interrelated challenges, observed the report.

The lack of protection for Libyan women is compounded by the gendered impacts of conflict, internal displacement, reliance on informal justice mechanisms, and restrictions on mobility, which deprive young women of opportunities to make their voices heard.

It added that amid the political conflict and economic turmoil, young women who want to contribute to peace-building, political process, and economic reconstruction face serious obstacles. Their marginalisation inhibits prospects for a sustainable peace and reconstruction, as political settlements that fail to include all age and gender demographics tend to perform worse over the medium and long run.

The document summarised some of the challenges young Libyan women face and offers recommendations for international, national, and local stakeholders. The challenges and recommendations outlined were drawn directly from a series of conferences held with and by young Libyan women, and were developed through further research and consultation.

A community health worker speaking to women at the Primary Health Care Centre in Abugrein.

The report showed that the persistent economic marginalisation of women in Libya both contributes to and is exacerbated by the other challenges young women face. Nearly 64% of Libyan women do not hold jobs, and only 20% describe themselves as “fully employed”. According to the World Bank, the labour force participation rate among Libyan women aged 15+ is 28%, compared with 79% among Libyan men.

The report added that over half of employed women work in the stereotypically female sectors of education and health, compared with 7% of employed men in the private sector, which remains relatively small in Libya as a proportion of total employment. Libyan women are underrepresented, and are far less likely to be entrepreneurs or work high-paying jobs in the oil sector, the report said.

The report quoted the Acting Representative of the United Nations Population Fund in Libya, Asas Tosson, as asserting that young women in the country are no short of enthusiasm in pursuing opportunities to improve their lives through education and work, but they face obstacles in the way of achieving their goals due to their gender.

Nearly 64% of Libyan women do not hold jobs, and only 20% describe themselves as “fully employed”.

Excluding women from opportunities makes them vulnerable to financial pressures, domestic violence and even extremism, Tosson said, indicating that women and girls are at the forefront of the Fund’s programmes and response in Libya that seek to provide clinical and psychological support to victims of gender-based violence (GBV).

Toussin added that this support aims to help young women and women to be economically self-reliant and to provide access to sexual and reproductive health services and opportunities in various youth initiatives in preparation for achieving the goal of their social integration.

The report found that young Libyan women lack meaningful political representation despite voting at similar rates to young men, almost half, noting that sexual violence exacerbated by conflict, internal displacement, informal justice mechanisms and restrictions on movement deprives them of the opportunity to hear their voices.

The report added that women who participate in politics face a higher risk of violence, including abduction and assassination, and are increasingly at risk of GBV, while there are laws in place to protect women, they often face discrimination, disbelief, and harassment when reporting crimes, and enforcement is inconsistent at best.

The report called on international partners to ensure full active participation and representation of young women in the peace process, and that supported programmes represent young women’s voices and needs, provide specialised support for women who face unique challenges.

It also urged to identify and provide support for Libyan programmes that expand empowerment of women, engage local actors, especially for projects that may challenge social norms, mainstream gender in programmes across different fields, including development, humanitarian assistance, governance, and peace-building, and that gender-sensitive economic recovery is prioritised.

Excluding women from opportunities makes them vulnerable to financial pressures, domestic violence and even extremism.

The report called on Libyan civil society organisations to highlight young women’s success stories in Libyan society, including in non-traditional businesses, raise awareness of women about their political and economic rights and obligations, pressure decision makers to implement changes, multiply entry points for GBV survivors to a multi-sectoral and multidimensional age-appropriate chain of services through women’s and girls’ safe spaces, help lines, and specialised services.

© AlMarsad English (2020)

 

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