On the 15th of February 2011, the emergence of the Arab Spring continued to prove its influence by reaching Libya through a series of demonstrations and riots directed at the Muammar al-Gaddafi regime. The rebellion quickly developed and the violence escalated as rebel groups collided with Gaddafi forces.
By October 23rd, 2011, the National Transitional Council officially declared that Libya was free from Gaddafi’s dictator rule. Libya announced the line-up for a transitional government and in doing so ensured the representation of regional and political factions. Nevertheless, women as a social group remained seriously under-represented.
A seemingly evident example of women in Libya being secluded from political process matters was that only two of the twenty newly selected ministers were women. Moreover, in evaluating the scores of government councils created in cities and towns to replace those of the old regime, it is apparent that hardly any women are present. Thus, there exists a clear deficit of women in setting the tone on issues of relevance to women, such as the new Constitution, the needs of war widows and Libyan families rising fear of what will happen to women's rights in the new Libya.
The absence of women is not only visible in the political sphere of Libya. Although women in Libya generally are highly educated, they are still acutely missing from the labour market by accounting for only 25% of the active national workforce.
DanChurchAid has been working programmatically in the Middle East and North Africa since 1949, and has a strong current presence in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon and Libya carrying out Gender Equality, Humanitarian Assistance, Mine Action, Right to Food and Political Space programs.
In light of the late 2011 Arab Spring emergence, DCA’s work expanded to Libya and following a humanitarian response shifted its work to gender equality seeking to influence discriminated groups, especially women, in political processes. This action logically extends DCA's ongoing work in Libya with women as part of its gender programme, which was implemented in October 2011.
DanChurchAid works in Libya to strengthen women’s rights. Women’s organizations receive help to form networks and to get training in making joint campaigns about women at work and domestic violence at both the national and the local level. At the same time the women are encouraged to join other women’s networks in the region in order to give them greater impact and legitimacy.