Panafrican News Agency

UN Missionin Libya calls for end to online harassment of women

Tripoli, Libya (PANA) - The United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL) has announced that it has brought together women activists from across the country to call for an end to online violence and harassment against women in support of the UN's 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence campaign.

In a statement issued on Saturday, UNSMIL said that over the past two months, the UN mission's Gender Section has brought together 90 women activists to advocate a unified message against online violence and harassment.

"It is important to emphasise that, despite their political differences, Libyan women are united on issues related to advancing the status and rights of women," said Nada Darwazeh, Gender Officer at the UNSMIL.

She added: "This unified position represents a positive message that must constantly resonate."

The statement stressed that the support to civil society organisations was conceived following a series of meetings organised by the Gender Section with several women activists and representatives of women's civil society organisations to discuss the challenges facing women.

It added that the most important of these challenges was that the women's movement was not unified behind women's issues.

"The goal was to help women activists unite their voices around the same issue," Darwazeh explained, saying that the phenomenon of online violence and hate speech is on the rise and fighting this increase has been a long-standing priority for the women involved.

The Gender Equality Department team, consisting of 90 women's civil society organisations and several women activists, individually submitted five questions to a vote, in which 37 women activists from across the country participated, the UNMIL statement said.

It added that 43% of them chose to support the cause of fighting online violence and hate speech targeting women and girls.

The activists also suggested campaign messages on social networks, such as "Women have the right to express their political opinions," according to UNMIL.

The participants called on decision-makers to enact laws and regulations to protect women from online violence.

More than 30 messages were prepared, of which 16 were voted on, so that one message is aired each day of the annual UN campaign.

According to a recent UN Women study, about 46% of women who use the Internet in the Arab world do not feel safe from online violence, while 44% say their experiences of online violence have moved from social media to reality, according to UNSMIL.

Over the next two weeks, the campaign will aim to raise awareness of the issues at the national level and among social constituencies across the country.

"Women are asking decision-makers to listen to them and take effective measures to protect them in cyberspace," Darwazeh said.

"You also want to change the public discourse around this issue and end the negative acceptance of this behaviour online," she said.

-0- PANA BY/IS/BBA/MA 27Nov2022