- Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace
“Feminist Formations” is a 2015 JMEWS “Third Space” initiative. Autonomous “feminist” collectives and groups throughout the region were asked to describe their projects and reflect on their main challenges in the current historical moment. Seven entries were published in issue 11:1, another seven in 11:2, and this is the final set of entries. This challenging initiative came to fruition with the help of feminist activists, including members of the JMEWS Editorial Board, who facilitated entrée, brought groups to our attention, and assisted with translation.—The Editors
More than thirty-five women from various cities and backgrounds launched the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP; lwpp.org) in October 2011 to ensure that women remain a vital part of post-Gaddafi Libya. We emphasize inclusive transition, women’s rights, youth leadership, security, women’s political and economic participation, constitutional reform, and education. The LWPP has grown into a network of over one hundred organizations and individuals. It has also been involved in creating platforms of dialogue with different Libyan stakeholders interested in peace and security.
The LWPP, in partnership with the regional nongovernmental organization Karama, organized in 2013 the Libyan Women’s Political Empowerment Program, which aimed to place gender equality and inclusive democracy on the agenda of the transition period in Libya. We worked with civil society groups on making electoral processes fair, redrafting the Constitutional Declaration, effecting community-level reconciliation, overseeing justice and security sector reforms, and ensuring gender-responsive policies. The program emphasized raising awareness of existing laws that protect women and the marginalized and developing a specialized response to gender-based violence.
In December 2011 the National Transitional Council drafted a controversial election law that was criticized for its exclusivist patriarchal tribal mind-set. The LWPP joined with other organizations to protest the election law. We also identified [End Page 359] legal experts sensitive to gender matters and asked them to form an independent committee that would produce a more inclusive electoral law. To guarantee equal representation of women and men, the committee proposed an electoral law based on “zipper lists,” or political party election lists that alternate vertically and horizontally between male and female candidates. This initiative was adopted and was very successful: 624 women registered as candidates (of 3,700 total), 540 through political parties (encouraged by zipper lists) and 84 as independents. Sixty-two percent of Libyans (40 percent of them women) cast over 1.7 million ballots. Libyan women won 16.5 percent of the positions (thirty-three seats, of which thirty-two were acquired through party lists) in the first elected National Congress in fifty-two years.
After a series of workshops and wide consultations on the constitution that began in 2013, the LWPP released the Charter of Libyan Women’s Constitutional Rights in January 2015 to address and build consensus on the roles of sharia and international conventions in the constitution. Our goal was to prioritize women’s rights and concerns. In November 2014 we organized, in partnership with the US Institute for Peace, a workshop with Libyan women civil society leaders, youth activists, judges, legal experts, academics, religious leaders in the League of Libyan ʿUlama, and the dean of graduate studies at Al-Azhar University to discuss these topics with the leader of the Civil Rights Committee of the Constitutional Drafting Committee. There was agreement that sharia and international conventions can be reconciled through platforms that reflect mutual understanding between human/ women’s rights activists and religious leaders. Among the issues discussed was the difference between the theoretical Islamic ideal and the practical Libyan legal and social context. The meeting concluded with a set of recommendations to constitutionalize women’s rights; these recommendations form the bulk of the Charter of Libyan Women’s Constitutional Rights.
The LWPP also produced the Crisis Response Strategy to Achieve Stabilization in Libya. Libyans of diverse backgrounds formulated the strategy at a meeting on February 17–18, 2015, the fourth anniversary of the Libyan Revolution, in light of the failure of the international community and the absence of key stakeholders from United Nations-led peace talks. With terrorism threatening to engulf the country one city...