Libya Status of Women Report 2013

Publication Author: 
International Federation for Electoral Systems
September 2013
Libya Status of Women Survey Report_final2.pdf1.67 MB

As Libya transitions out of the 42-year autocratic rule of the Muammar Qaddafi regime, an urgent theme has emerged: the need to safeguard women’s participation as Libya codifies human rights in national legislation and establishes government institutions and services. 

Major decisions are being made that will impact Libya’s future as a democratic State. For instance, women are actively seeking participation in the drafting process of the new constitution and in the formation of government policies across all sectors to advance their concerns. Currently, there is no provision for gender parity or the inclusion of women in the 60-member Constitutional Committee being formed. This omission is concerning, as a gender parity provision was included in the 2012 electoral law.

Following the revolution, many women and girls had restrictions imposed on their movement by family, due in part to growing concerns regarding the security of women and girls throughout the country. These restrictions are tightening as stories of violence against women circulate and uncertainty of centralized authority for the military and police continues to exist. As a result, women and girls are often confined to their homes, especially in the evenings.

There is also much discussion about whether the general population of women – and Libyans more broadly – fully understand their responsibilities as rights holders. For women, the expectation of equality and representation in government may be altogether absent, simply because there is very little precedent. There are also questions about how Islamic Law (Sharia) will play a role in the development of government institutions and policies, and what this could mean for women. In this developing context, many women expressed a desire to learn more about women’s rights under Sharia.

Meanwhile – despite the fact that there are as many women as men who are university degree holders in Libya – women who venture into the workplace face tremendous challenges: from glass ceilings to pervasive sexual harassment. Additionally, the conservative cultural practices of family life in Libya often extend into the workplace, and many prominent women leaders express frustration with male counterparts who refuse to acknowledge them, especially in supervisory roles. Class divisions also factor in to women’s experiences across Libya, with poor and rural women facing tremendous hurdles to leave their homes to access education and employment opportunities.

Within this context, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) designed and conducted a nationwide household survey of the adult female population in Libya with a subsample of males to collect much-needed data on a variety of issues affecting women, and to inform current debates and efforts aimed at promoting the status of women in the country.

To read the full report click here, or download the pdf