On Tuesday 2 February 2021, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security (APPG-WPS) hosted an event titled “Peacebuilding and Women and Girls’ Rights in Libya”, chaired by Baroness Fiona Hodgson, Co-chair of the APPG-WPS. This event allowed us to discuss and hear about the challenges that women peacebuilders and women human rights defenders face in Libya, as well as the devastating impact that this had had on women and girls’ rights. The event also explored the role of the international community and in particular the UK Government in supporting women peacebuilders and activists in Libya.
The event heard from: Dr Rida Al Tubuly, Director of Together We Build It (TWBI); Elham Saudi, Co-founder and Director of Lawyers for Justice in Libya and Nicholas Hopton, Her Majesty’s Ambassador for Libya.
Dr Rida Al Tubuly began by discussing the situation in Libya and what militarisation means for women and girls. She noted that women and girls are disproportionally impacted by war but are also absent from peacebuilding processes. Dr Rida also addressed the challenges and dangers that women human rights defenders and women peacebuilders face in society for the crucial work that they do but are unable to report threats or seek protection due to the absence of justice and rule of law. We also heard about the work that TWBI is doing in raising awareness about the importance of Libyan women and girls’ access and participation in society.
We also heard from Elham Saudi, who is currently participating in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum. Elham shared her experiences of participating in such peace or dialogue processes where women are typically excluded or face hostility and threats to their lives for participating. Elham also discussed the shrinking of civil society space and the critical need for direct funding for Libyan activists and grassroots actors, as funding via international actors does not reach those who need it.
Lastly, Her Majesty’s Ambassador for Libya, Nicholas Hopton spoke from the perspective of the UK’s work in Libya. His Excellency spoke about the fact that the UK is committed to the Women, Peace and Security agenda, particularly in relation to Libya as it is one of the UK National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security’s focus countries. He gave various examples of the work which the UK is doing in Libya, such as the efforts to protect and promote women peacebuilders, targeted scholarships to ensure access to education, and supporting women in local social peace committees.
In the Q&A session, speakers were asked about the progress that the UK and the international community has made in supporting peacebuilding, human rights and gender equality in Libya, to which the speakers reflected on the need for resourcing for local civil society in Libya, closing the gap between women who are doing work at community level and the high level decision making processes as well as the importance of ensuring advocacy for the inclusion of women in political processes. The event provided an excellent opportunity to learn and reflect on peacebuilding and gender equality in Libya.