Libyan women activists’ strategic reflection meeting, Tunis, May 28-29th 2015
The idea of this meeting came out in 2014 after a discussion MedWF’s staff had with the chairwoman of "Development Organization Support Youth and Women" about the support that could be offered to Libyan women activists in the terrible situation they are currently experiencing in their country.
As it is one axis of its program to reinforce the women's movement, MedWF proposed a space for women activists to meet and reflect together during two days. Urgent action Fund – Africa agreed to support the meeting financially and the Euro Mediterranean Network of Human Rights Defenders ‐-‐ Tunisian branch helped MedWF with the logistic arrangements of the gathering. To get in touch with Libyan women activists and make them come to Tunis, the assistance of "Development Organization Support Youth" chairwoman and her organization was crucial.
20 women activists representing 11 associations were invited and had answered positively. But due to the very complicated life they have, in the end, 14 of them came to the meeting. Most of them belong to an organization and come from different libyan towns.
To facilitate communication and facilitation Arabic/English translations were used. The program was very simple: most of the time was dedicated to discussion. After a brief presentation of the Mediterranean Women’s Fund, time was given to each participant so that they could present themselves and their organizations. The discussion then turned to the challenges facing women and women's associations in their current context and all of the participants were able to take time to share their concerns, difficulties, and what they consider to be the main challenges facing them. The second half of the day, the women activists concentrated on identifying the strengths, the weaknesses and the allies of the women’s movement or women activists in Libya.
The second day, the list of all the issues they had discussed the day before was issued in order to help them identify among those priority issues and the needs for women‘s rights in Libya. Women were organized in three groups to select the highest priorities.
The two following priorities were decided upon by the assembly:
• at external level: to constitutionalize women’s rights, the high Assembly of women and mechanisms of implementation
• at internal level: to get international support for the women’s organizations: funding, trainings, logistic, material
The results of the meeting reveal its success. A very interesting debate went on one day and half long, and lots of information and reflections have been shared. The participants expressed their satisfaction with the outcome of the meeting and shared that they were not expecting a so good level of discussion: the methodology, the brainstorming, the confortable place helped them to think deeply and freely with their own material. They all acknowledged it was an important step to be able to gather because it is very difficult to meet in Libya nowadays and wish that other women organizations would take part to the next meeting. They insisted on the fact that another meeting should take place soon with more organizations and input from women activists from other countries.
Despite the danger they face, the troubles they go through, the suffering they carry –the women invited are very strong and full of hope and we are proud to be on their side.
In addition to have successfully offered a space to women activists of Libya to take a time to reflect on the women situation in their country, this workshop also was an important moment of vital breathing space for the women activists who are living in heavy stress.
For the Mediterranean Women’s Fund, at last a window has been opened on Libya with better understanding of the Libyan women’s movement.