Opinion | Women in Libya: Caught between Hope and the Civil War by Eman, Libya

Women in Libya who are trying to find a job are facing multiple challenges, and the civil war is just one of them. Staying safe, working far off from the places of the conflict, finding a job near the home way, and many other conditions women workers in Tripoli finding themselves set as a must during the civil war in Tripoli.



In 2011, Libya started its revolution and women hoped to make the country better and achieved more progress. Women worked and still work hard to have their permanent positions in helping to build the country. As we cannot ignore the role of women in building any educated and successful society, female workers in Libya are a significant element to rebuild the country in all sides; socially, academically, economically and politically. However, female workers in Tripoli suffer deeply to make their professional life alive after the revolution in 2011 and during the civil war now in 2019. The unstable situation in Tripoli makes everyone’s daily life difficult and adds a lot of changes on women’s lives.

“Women have been very involved and engaged during 2011 and throughout these past four years. They were present and active in political protests, organizing humanitarian relief and in some cases right behind rebel forces at the front lines.” says Assma Khalifa (MA Peace and Conflict Studies–Research Student, 2014). However, many reasons let Libyan women step back to start their own work and take a position during the civil war. In 2014, the Libyan activist Salwa Abughigais was found dead in Benghazi when the civil war started there. This let many women change their minds and get scared by doing anything or talking about their rights. On the other hand, some could face and fight for their own rights. Fatima Al-omrani, a journalist at the Libyan Media, stated that she started working after 2011 and all the obstacles never stopped her. She continued her speech to Made For Minds website “I have been threatened to be killed but that let me know that we, women, do the right thing”.  

The founder of Yummy, Fattoum Naser, stated that Libyan women find themselves between the cultural norms, the lack of support and the fear to fail. In this context, there is another reason that affects the women from all sides especially as workers. Moreover, the civil war affects the ability to go far off from the areas of women’s houses and staying outside home for full time working or getting a job in two different positions in different areas. Also, the cultural norms do not help some women to be allowed to go out and start their career life especially in rural areas. The civil war restricts women from becoming a part of this country and kills their dreams quietly. Teachers at international and private schools in Tripoli argue about changing their work place because the schools were near the war zone. Some teachers had to move from several schools before finding the appropriate one. Two job positions is the only solution to raise the kids and give them their needs and some females work at private and state sections.

Life is getting harder and women find themselves fighting for the basic needs of their children while at the same tine facing the war. In this case they start looking for other positions where they can work safely and get paid well. In addition, finding the accurate school for their needs it is something not easy to happen especially if the school is far off from their home way. Some females who live in the war zone and/or near it left their houses and rent homes in the middle of the capital where the area are far from the war zone. A teacher at the international school said that she had to work at two places because she wanted to pay for the house she is renting, and to get well paid.

On the other hand, some women could achieve great dreams and make them come true. Some Libyan women could make a difference and shine in the society despite all the challenges and troubles they face. Dentists at El-fardous clinic claimed that they can work and never stop trying, whatever the situation is, it never ends and they will keep fighting and working. Women have a persistent to protect their dreams, participate in many positions in the country. Khairi Habib to the UNDP “We are working to connect all the units together through a network to encourage and empower women to work hand-in-hand with men to contribute to the development of their society in various ways including economically and politically, and, more so, to review laws that restrict women’s rights”.

The conflicts in Libya hurt women in many ways. Some women can get help and support from family and friends but many feel insecure and lack the tools and skills to begin a career. The result is most women today in Libya are caught between the desire to become independent and the fear of getting hurt.







*This Op-Ed was written as part of the 2019 YaLa Alumni Opinion Writing Course

Leave a Comment

Want to join the discussion? Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply