As the world celebrates the International Women’s Day, I want to convey a special greeting on behalf of the Secretary-General and myself to the women of Libya. The theme this year is “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change”. And so today we celebrate the resilience of the Libyan women who have continued to engage and make credible contributions to the state building agenda. This path has not been easy, and it is only due to their commitment and perseverance that the women of Libya now have a critical role in peacemaking and development efforts across the country.
UNSMIL remains committed at all levels, to ensure the participation and inclusion of Libyan women in on-going political efforts. I am happy to share with you that the Women’s Support and Empowerment Unit at the Prime Minister’s Office held its first international coordination meeting last month with great success. Moreover, progress is being made by the Libyan authorities’ recognition of the critical role played by women to participate in state-building, security, development and peacemaking efforts across the country. This commitment was recently exemplified by the appointment of two female Lieutenant Colonels at the Ministry of Interior to establish and lead the Women’s Affairs and Family/ Child Protection offices.
A key dimension of the constitution proposal relates to maintaining all gains made for gender equity and equality, it is crucial that decisionmakers shoulder their responsibilities to ensure that acquired rights and liberties of women are codified and translated into legislation to guarantee that Libyan women continue to enjoy these rights, and further review and amend any laws that are discriminatory in nature towards women and girls.
Moreover, progress is being made to reach out to women so that they can continue to engage at the community and local level. For example, we have seen a drastic increase in the number of women during the voter registration period last year. Also, more Libyan women are now members of political parties - this is a clear indicator that Libyan women are engaging and ready to be part of the political solution through commitment, diligence, and a vision for shared prosperity.
We have recently launched the UN’s Humanitarian Response Plan. This Plan has put forth ambitious but achievable targets for a significantly improved quality of life for the people of Libya. According to the UN Humanitarian Response Plan women, children and youth represent around 50 per cent of the people in need of humanitarian assistance and are among the most vulnerable groups in Libya. Based on the inter-sector needs analysis, an estimated 278,000 women are identified as in need of humanitarian assistance, an estimated 170,000 women face challenges in accessing health services in addition to 150,000 women facing protection issues, including Gender Based Violence, which is one of the cruelest violations of human rights and needs to be addressed. We look forward to working with the Libyan authorities to finding attainable solutions to end such violations.
Refugee and migrant women travelling to and through Libya continue to face harsh environmental conditions. Many end-up being subject to trafficking, forced labor, sexual violence and exploitation. The UN continues to call for ending arbitrary detention, finding alternatives to it while paying special attention to needs of migrant women and girls.
I would like to conclude on a high note; Libyan women are making great strides as entrepreneurs and remain strong contributors to the economy. Using Innovation and Technology, the women of Libya are prepared and ready for the economic growth and financial inclusion. I am encouraged to see the young Libyan women actively taking an indispensable role in building a more affluent and stable country for themselves, through generating new business ideas ranging from online applications to establishing communications platforms.
So, let us stand up and applaud the achievements of the Libyan women and commit today to promote peace, security and sustainable development for a better tomorrow. Please join me in this commitment and wish all Libyan women a happy International Women’s Day.Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL).