Speaking in Parliament, Jo has called for greater inclusion of women into decision-making on Libya’s future.
Highlighting the role that women played in the Libyan uprising, Jo asked the Prime Minister how the involvement of women in the NTC and national conference decision-making processes would be encouraged.
Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that a stronger Libyan society would emerge if there is a proper and appropriate role for women in society, emphasising that using the expertise of NGOs was key to achieving that goal.
Commenting, Jo said:
“Women have played a central role in the Libyan uprising: from the catalyst of protest on 15th February, when the female relatives of prisoners killed in the 1996 Abu Salim massacre took to Benghazi’s streets, to smuggling arms beneath their clothing and tending to the injured. Their role in constructing a stable, free and democratic Libya is therefore absolutely vital.
“I am pleased the Prime Minister also recognises that building a strongLibya means including women in the decision-making process, and groups like Women for Libya are working hard to raise awareness of this issue.”
- The full text of Jo’s question and the Prime Minister’s response is as follows:
5 Sep 2011 : Column 34
Jo Swinson (East Dunbartonshire) (LD): I welcome the progress of the Libyan people and the success of the United Nations’ principle of the responsibility to protect. The catalyst of the uprising was the 15 February protest by the widows, mothers and sisters of the victims of the Abu Selim massacre. Women played a crucial role in the revolution and are a vital resource for the tough task ahead of rebuilding Libya, so what can our Government do to encourage the involvement of women at all levels of the decision-making processes in the NTC and the national conference, in line with not only United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 but the wishes of Libyan civil society organisations such as Women for Libya?
The Prime Minister: The hon. Lady makes an important point, and I think one of the best ways to do that is to work with the non-governmental organisations that have particular expertise in that area. I repeat that this is not the same as Iraq, where basically an intervention knocked over a Government, and there was then a de-Ba’athification process and we had to try to put back in place what had gone. Here, we are trying to work with the Libyans, who are putting things in place themselves. I absolutely agree that a much stronger society will emerge if there is a proper and appropriate role for women, which tragically there is not in so many societies. I think going through non-governmental organisations is probably the right answer.