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The election will be Libya’s first national poll after four decades of dictatorship under toppled leader Muammar Gaddafi. The Libyan Public National Conference elections scheduled for July 8th will establish a transitional conference (committee). Once elected, the Conference will appoint a Prime Minister, Cabinet and Constituent Authority, which will draw up a new constitution.

The Libyan Public National Conference will be responsible for the approval; coordination and organization of a general election will be held within six months from that point.

Status and Representation of Women 

Throughout Qaddafi's rule from 1969 to 2011, only 4 women occupied ministerial posts, in the ministries of culture, media, social affairs and women.

During the period of transitional government that followed the fall of the Gaddafi’s regime the National Transitional Council (NTC) established in February 2011, selected one woman to represent and lead the department of Legal Affairs and Women, Dr. Salwa Fawzi El-In. In November 2011, the NTC announced a new cabinet of 28 members, Fatima Hamroush was nominated as Minister of Health and Mabrouka Sherif as Minister of Social Affairs.





Political Representation and Participation of Women in National Conference Elections July 7, 2012 

 

Besides struggling to acquire the necessary infrastructural capacity and the required equipment to hold the elections the National Transitional Council (NTC) has had to draft a new electoral law to govern the electoral process. The draft electoral law published and approved on January 1 2012 guaranteed that 10% of the 200MPs elected would be women, unless fewer candidates ran[1].  Unfortunately the second draft abolished the quota for women and allowed local NTC council members to run in the election; it also changed the electoral system from countrywide to constituency-based.

 

Regardless of the protests by the Libyan Women’s Peace Platform and a petition the National Transitional Council has justified their decision by claiming that the reformed electoral system (zipper system) is in effect ensuring women’s quota by alternating party lists. Due to a lack of baseline data on the political participation and representation of women in Libya during in the past it is difficult to accurately analyze the current participation of women in the electoral process. Currently there are only two women in the Cabinet out of 24 ministers, there are only two women in the Transitional Council (NTC).

 

A total of 625 women are standing in the July elections, 540 of whom represent the 130 political parties fielding candidates. The 540 women represent almost half of the candidates for the 80 seats reserved for political parties. There are 662 male candidates chasing the same seats. Among the candidates for the 120 seats reserved for individuals in the assembly, women are also under-represented. Of the 2,500 hopefuls here, only 85 are women[2].

 

Halloum al-Fallah, an independent candidate hopeful from the eastern city of Benghazi, said Libyan women are taking lessons from the Arab Spring in terms of how to fight for their place in politics. "We are learning from the mistakes in Egypt and Tunisia, but also learning from what other countries are doing well," said Fallah[3].

The outcome of these historic elections remain uncertain but there is hope that these 625 candidates have drawn strength and knowledge from the experiences of the two female candidates that ran in the local elections in Benghazi earlier this year. These results are largely dependent on voter turn out with women candidates biggest voter base being between the ages of 21-35.  

 

Results

At least 30 women secured seats in the national conference pratially as aa result of a system which obliged parties to alternate on their lists between male and female candidates and the international and national effort to support the political participation of women in Libya. Only one female independent candidate was elected.

In all, women will hold approximately 16.5 per cent of the 200 seats.

 



[1] LNCES/LY Website.

[3] Parvez, D,. (2012). Libyan Women Hope For Gains in the Elections, Aljazeera.com. Accessed May 11, 2012:http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2012/05/20125178164415112.html/

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