Although the results of the Libyan election showed an increase in female representation in the General National Congress, there is still progress to be made. Many still don’t believe that women can lead, and many women aren’t aware of their rights or their capabilities.
Dr. Souad Sherif, a participant from Vital Voices’ MENA program, Support for Libyan Businesswomen and Entrepreneurs, shares her thoughts on the election and how women can continue to make positive progress in Libya.
During the revolution, Libyan women were responsible for a lot of the revolutionaries’ progress. We led protests, we treated the wounded, we encouraged men-both young and old-to fight for their rights and bring freedom to the country. We even carried out undercover missions!
Our hard work and determination, both before and during the revolution, shows the extent to which we have worked to gain Libya’s freedom. This is why we deserve to have our voices heard.
The substantial number of women who ran for the National Assembly, and who participated in the electoral process, is evidence that Libyan women have a voice. I am hopeful. However, our work is not finished yet. The government must address women’s ability to participate and have an active role in decision-making.
Education, education, education. This is the most important issue for us to tackle. We must educate women so they have the tools to influence our society and work effectively to improve Libya’s future. One aspect of educating Libyan women is making them aware of their rights. For the past 42 years, we have been ruled by a dictator. We had no rights and no concept of a democratic government; there was only Gaddafi and his corrupt regime. Libyan women can ensure their rights are heard and respected by learning how to voice their opinion, in addition to learning about democracy.
As Libyan women, we need to build a strong foundation so that we can ensure a bright future for the country. Our women have a strong voice and influence in Libyan society, and we will have a voice in the government we are voting for!