With support from UNSMIL, the Libyan Women's Forum (LWF) (www.libyan-women.forum.org.) organized a four day workshop from 9-12 June providing interactive training for female candidates for the forthcoming House of Representatives (HR) elections on 25 June.
The intensive training covered topics that included: defining rights and their importance, the principles of human rights and relevant international declarations, constitutional culture, gender issues in politics, being a member of the HR, barriers to performance, the role and importance of the HR, demands of being a member of the HR, internal regulations, building alliances within the HR, protocols and etiquettes and protocols of formal meetings and foreign visits.
About 30 candidates participated on Thursday, the last day of training, which Libya Herald attended. The candidates were very enthusiastic and proactive, interacting with the trainers in a lively session over a variety of topics.
“We phoned 120 candidates inviting them to attend”, explained Shahrazad Magrabi, organiser, trainer and a founding Director of LWF, “however only thirty were able to attend. “But we are happy that we have participants from all over the country including Obari, Sebha, Sirte, Tarhuna, Murzuq, Bani Walid, as well as Tripoli”.
“We would have had more if it was not because of the petrol crises. Some still drove over and some came by taxi”, she said proud of their enthusiasm and desire to receive the free training. Magrabi was nevertheless disappointed that none of the candidates based in the east of the country were able to make the training for “logistical reasons”, she said.
Magarbi was keen that Libyan women were able to participate fully in Libya's political process by overcoming social attitudes to political participation. One of the candidates at the workshop complained that women in Tripoli's district of Tajura had been prevented from putting their names forward as candidates for the elections, for example. Whilst Bani Walid candidate, Mariam Tayeb, complained that the current male GNC members for Bani Walid had changed two seats for women in the district to general seats.
Tayeb called for women in Bani Walid to vote for women candidates in the general seats there, adding that “women should accept the challenge and overcome their social barriers by persistently fighting for their rights”.
The training is considered an important part of improving Libya's democracy and contributing to making better candidates. This is especially so in view of the negative public opinion that exists concerning the poor performance of the existing General National Congress.
In the 25 June elections, there will be 200 seats contested in 13 electoral constituencies. Of these 200 seats, 168 will be general seats which can be contested freely by both men and women, and the balance of the 32 (16 percent) seats are reserved specifically for women candidates.
The 25 June House of Representatives elections are considered as phase two of Libya's interim or transitional post 17 February 2011 revolution political period, under the Transitional Constitutional Declaration of August 2011 , which acts as the social contract between the Libyan public and their interim rulers.
This interim phase will come to an end when the current Constitutional Drafting Committee completes its job of drafting a constitution that is approved by the House of Representatives and the Libyan public through a referendum. The approved constitution would define Libya's next political process.