Between 2017 and 2019, the next stage of our programme in Libya builds on our previous experience. It also responds to findings of recent surveys involving Libyan civil society organisations (CSOs) and authorities from several urban centres and rural areas, which indicates that:
- Libyan civil society is developing at a relatively slow pace as many organisations closed down (due to the political crisis or poor management, limited professional capacity and skills, as well as organizational experience and infrastructure) or advocates left the country; most civil society organisations are deeply affected by the conflict;
- Most civil society organisations are deeply affected by the conflict;
- Few organisations have paid staff and are largely run by committed volunteers;
- Very few organisations have equipment, office space or proper organizational infrastructure;
- CSOs have limited online presence outside of Facebook- few have organisational email addresses, use social media outside of Facebook and do not have websites; and
- Addressing women’s rights has been neglected and most CSOs have not focused on these issues.
The study concludes that building and supporting civil society within Libya will require significant effort and support from external partners and donors.
Women’s rights organisations have an important role to play and thus it is critical to support the development of skilled, confident, innovative advocates for gender equality who have the institutional base needed to enable and sustain their work within Libya.
With this in mind, based on the research and our own experience working in Libya, we have designed the following programme for 2017-2019 utilising four key strategies:
- Identify (through face-to-face consultations and questionnaires) the capacity building needs of women’s rights advocates and provide workshops and opportunities which respond to these priorities;
- Identify the strategic opportunities to advance gender justice and equality within Libya and design collaborative programmes to address those priorities, to be led and implemented by local partners within Libya;
- Identify the institutional needs of women’s rights groups and organisations, design an institutional development plan for each organisation, and undertake a process of strengthening the institutional capacity of local organisations.
- Organise, in collaboration with the Libyan Ministry of Gender, a national Libyan Women’s Forum in 2018 bringing together 125 women’s rights organisations, advocates and supporters from urban centres and rural areas across the country. This is intended to: foster dialogue on gender equality within Libya; establish networks amongst women’s rights advocates and supporters; build relationships between different tribes through dialogue between women thus contributing to more understanding; and harmonious relations between tribes suspicious of each other; and start to create an informed public discourse on gender equality and women’s empowerment.