Global Leadership Awards
UPDATE: Salwa passed away in June 2014 — read the remembrance by Alyse Nelson.
Human rights lawyer Salwa Bugaighis has long been known throughout Libya for her work defending political prisoners during the Qaddafi regime. She played a prominent role throughout Libya’s rebellion, including as an organizer of the February 17, 2011 demonstrations in Benghazi that marked the beginning of the dictatorship’s end.
Salwa has remained an active force in the country’s ongoing political transition. An original member of Libya’s National Transitional Council, she resigned her position after three and a half months to protest the lack of women in the new government. As she says, “They knew that women were very effective and very strong in this revolution, but they think that now, the role is for the man.”
Outside of government, she has become a one-woman force for political reform, supporting female candidates and lobbying the government to heed their views. “My main concern is the role of the women in the future,” she says. “We want equal opportunity in all sectors. We want to ensure that our rights in the constitution will be