Panafrican News Agency

Libyan parliamentarians agree on strategy for greater representation of women

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - As Libya prepares to establish electoral laws, women members of the consultative High State Council and the House of Representatives (parliament) have agreed to work together on a strategy to advocate for greater representation of women in the country's future parliament, the UN Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) announced.

The mutually agreed strategy came at a meeting held in Tripoli on Sunday under the auspices of UNSMIL, said a statement issued by the UN mission on Tuesday, adding that 20 women, including eight from the High Council of State and 12 from the House of Representatives, participated.

"Women face unique challenges in politics because of their perceived social role in society," Georgette Gagnon, deputy representative of the secretary-general, resident and humanitarian coordinator, who chaired the meeting, was quoted by the release as saying.

She added that "women leaders have the opportunity and the obligation to ensure that these challenges are met and that a path is paved towards increased representation of women in elections in Libya.

To kick off the discussion, UNSMIL technical experts described, according to the same source, different mechanisms for ensuring greater representation of women in political leadership and presented lessons learned from other countries.

The participants then analyzed the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches in the Libyan context, the statement said.

Currently, women make up about 15 per cent and 16.5 per cent of the High Council of State and the House of Representatives respectively, UNSMIL said, noting that the recently published 13th Constitutional Amendment includes a temporary measure reserving 20 per cent of the seats in the House of Representatives for women in the upcoming elections and tasking a committee to designate seats for women in the Senate.

The meeting agreed to advocate the allocation of the majority of seats through a system of proportional representation with candidates running in lists with alternating female and male candidates.

Under proportional representation, seats allocated to constituencies are given to the winning lists according to the ratio of votes obtained, the statement said.

UNSMIL said they also discussed the minimum percentage of representation that should be established for the senatorial elections.

"It's an obsolete question to ask why women's representation is important in the 21st century," said Saltna El Msmari, a member of the House of Representatives quoted in the statement, adding that "she is the breadwinner for many Libyan families.

"She's in business, she's getting things done in the middle management. She is in all layers of society. It is normal that she is represented. It is important that the High State Council and the House of Representatives work together on this issue," she said.

Lamya Cherif, a member of the High Council of State, said that women's representatives had often had to fight to be included in political committees but, through persistent advocacy, they had had some success.

"We are ready to do it again and again for women to succeed," she said.

-0- PANA BY/JSG/BBA/RA 3May2023