LFJL applauds the efforts of the High National Election Commission and urges all stakeholders to prioritise the participation of women
Lawyers for Justice in Libya (LFJL) congratulates the Libyan people on exercising their right to vote for the first time in decades, and congratulates the candidates who won, through a democratic and free election process. We applaud the High National Election Commission (HNEC) for its exceptional performance in ensuring the successful elections. Its awareness raising efforts meant that an estimated 62% of the registered voters participated and only 3% of ballot papers were spoiled.
We particularly wish to welcome the inclusion and participation of women in the democratic process. Women exercising their right to vote made up 39% of ballots cast, and of the 80 seats allocated to party lists 31 were won by women. As a result of which, the representation of women in the General National Congress will be 16%, a figure comparable to that of the United States Senate.
LFJL is concerned by the lack of women directly elected as independent candidates. Of the 120 seats allocated for independents, only one was secured by a woman. LFJL Director, Elham Saudi, said “The figure for successful women candidates in this election is a positive indicator when looked at as a net number. However, the fact that only one woman was able to succeed when running independently highlights a key challenge for the next period in Libyan democracy. The role of women in this transitional period is crucial, and it is paramount that the new legislature and its appointed government continue to take concrete, substantive measures to ensure that women’s participation continues to grow following this promising start.”
LFJL urges the HNEC to continue its efforts proactively to promote the participation of women, both as voters and as candidates, in elections. LFJL calls upon the new legislature to address the issue of women’s participation as a priority. It should facilitate this by ensuring that the workings of the legislature are gender sensitive. Both the new government and the legislature must prioritise the need to educate on the importance of women’s inclusion in the nation’s decision making .To that end, LFJL calls on both the newly elected General National Congress and the government it will appoint to adopt substantive measures to ensure representation, including promoting the party lists model successfully applied in these elections and considering the introduction of gender quotas.
The elections on the 7 July 2012, were a historic event that showed the willingness and the eagerness of the Libyan people through their votes, men or women alike, to be part in the rebuilding of a democratic Libya. This is the opportunity for all Libyan citizens, men and women, to push for a more inclusive county that works together in building Libya.