Libyan southern women meet in Tripoli to talk about peace

Nov 14, 2017

Women listen to one of the participants of the workshop talking about reconciliation in the South. Photo: ©UNDP.

Tripoli - Women representatives from main communities of the South of Libya met in Tripoli from 7 to 8 of November to explore tangible ways to achieve sustainable peace in the region.

Organized by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and United Nations Support Mission in Libya (UNSMIL), with the support of Promédiation, a non-governmental organization providing expertise in conflict resolution in Southern Libya, the event allowed women activists, mediators, opinion-makers and community actors, mostly from the Awlad Suleiman and Qadhadfa tribes, to discuss their concerns and opinions in an impartial, neutral and confidential environment.

“When I was invited to participate in this meeting, I was very worried knowing that women from Qadadfa tribe will participate as well, because of the conflict between my tribe [Awlad Sulaiman] and Qadadfa tribe,” said one of the participants. “During these days, we exchanged our views and we dialogued in a peaceful way. We even went deep talking about our concerns. I was surprised to hear Qaddafah women expressing similar ideas to ours and I realized that they have the same goals, aspirations, hopes and dreams on supporting reconciliation than us. They also have the same will of playing a role and participate in reconciliation.” 

Reconciliation efforts, including this meeting, lend additional support to Libya in accelerating progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). Reconciliation is an important catalyst for sustainable development, as espoused by SDG 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions. Building trust among community members, tribes and community leaders can help solidifying dividends for stability. Furthermore, as SDG 5 states, gender equality is not only a basic human right but an accelerator for sustainable development. Empowering women to have an active role in Qadadfa-Awlad Sulaiman reconciliation process has a multiplier effect, and helps drive up a peaceful and inclusive society. During the two-day workshop, the participants analyzed the current situation in South, the causes and consequences of conflict and the key role that women can play as mediators to solve conflicts.

“Exchanging ideas with other women from both tribes was very good. We worked as a team and learned a lot about our role as women in reconciliation,” one of Qadadfa tribe’s participants elaborated. “I will share what I have learned in these sessions with women in south, especially with women from my tribe” she added.

Under the theme “Women’s Role in Promoting Local Reconciliation in the South, Gadhadfa and Awlad Suleiman - case study,” the participants learned about previous peace efforts such as the Tebu-Tuareg conflict, and the role that women played in those process, as well as examples of successful steps of negotiations.

At the end of the workshop, the participants agreed on a series of concrete actions to build confidence and encourage participation of women in dialogue, peace efforts and conflict prevention at the local level in reconciliation processes in the South.

“We want to influence people around us, our families, our community, our tribe, so we decided [women from Qadadfa & Awlad Suliman tribes], to form a team and create a channel on social media to share information that could be useful for our future work and activities on reconciliation between tribes”, stated one of the participants from Awlad Sulaiman tribe.

“Reconciliation in the South is not easy to achieve because of a strong attachment of some parties to the former regime. They don’t accept the new governmental change in Libya. I believe more workshops and meetings on reconciliation, which can bring together the parties in conflict will help communities to understand the current situation, the changes, and the importance of reconciliation and peacemaking.” concluded one of the participants from Qadadfa tribe.

The meeting was convened as part of the project “Towards National Reconciliation in Libya,” jointly implemented by UNSMIL and UNDP. The initiative aims at assisting Libyan national and local authorities, civil society and other partners in their effort to promote an inclusive vision for a comprehensive national reconciliation strategy.

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