Since Libyan Dictator Moammar Gaddafi was forcibly removed from power by the Libyan opposition, aided by western powers, the world has waited for a democratic Libya to show its face.
Women were definitely a part of the opposition to Gaddafi and a part of the uprising against him. Libyan men, and the West used massive firepower, while women used their words and their feet to protest.
Now that Gaddafi has gone, Libyan women say things getting worse for women. The new regime is sidelining women, education has stopped, and men are taking power for themselves.
Electing Women In Libya
In Libya’s first free poll, more than 3,000 candidates ran for office, including more than 600 women, around 20%. 33 women were elected out of 200 members, around 17%.
In July, the US Department of State trumpeted about Libya Makes Progress in Building Democratic and Secure State
In September, members of Libya’s 200-strong national assembly elected the country’s new prime minister, Mustafa Abu Shagour, an optical engineer, trained in the USA.
Wafa Taher Bugaighis, a Libyan woman hosted by the US Department of State in December 2011, said at the time that more women were educated in Gaddafi’s Libya than men, mainly because men needed to go to work. It is known that Gaddafi did use at least some of the country’s wealth to educate Libyans, to provide healthcare and travel opportunities.
State Department Hosts Libyan Women
At the time she was hosted by the Department of State, Wafa Taher Bugaighis was head of the International department of the Libya’s National Transitional Council in Benghazi.
Video: Wafa Taher Bugaighis on Marginalization of Libyan women.
After the elections, the General National Congress, as the Libyan governing body is called, had 200 members, voted in by 1.7 million voters, out of 2.8 million who registered to vote. 80 of the 200 members are associated with a party, and 120 are independents. In August, a vote by members, for a Chairman, elected Mohamed Yousef el-Magariaf, the leader of the National Front Party. He won with 113 votes over his main rival, Ali Zidan, an independent who received 85 votes.
Libya In A State Of Flux
Even though there is now a governing body, the government does not yet have control over the whole country. There is still fighting and shelling going on in a number of places. Today Reuters reports that Protesters break into grounds of Libya’s parliament. The protesters want the government to intervene in fighting in Bani Walid, formerly a Gaddafi stronghold, that is being shelled by militiamen from a rival town. The fighting has been going on for several days.
While the country is still in flux, awash with weapons, and small wars going on in several places, and with troublemakers so easily able to cause problems for the new government, it isn’t likely that women are going to command as much attention as they would like.
It is hard to tell whether women are better off or worse off, right now, than they were with Gaddafi in charge, and until things settle down, I doubt the picture will become more clear.