A new era for gender-based violence response in Libya

Funded by the Government of Catalonia and the Municipality of Barcelona

A system needed to help survivors and women and girls at risk of gender-based violence in Libya. [Photo: AFP-Archeive]
To strengthen the capacity of the local governance structures in addressing gender-based violence (GBV) issues in Libya, UNFPA and UN Women, along with local partners, have scaled up activities to build the capacity of municipalities and enhance the resilience of local communities by providing services to GBV survivors and those at risk. This project is generously funded by the Government of Catalonia and the Municipality of Barcelona.

Municipalities play a key role in social and political governance and in basic service provision. However, due to limited women representation and varying degree of capacities, the existing local governance systems are not well-equipped to provide social protection that adequately addresses gender-based violence and respond to the needs of survivors. 

“We need to establish a support system to help survivors and women and girls at risk of gender-based violence in Libya. For this, a network of local government offices, specialized service providers and local and international partners need to work together on the prevention and response mechanisms,” said Asr Toson, UNFPA Country Representative in Libya. “This project is playing a crucial role in identifying women members of municipalities, reaching out and engaging with local communities and building their capacities to better respond to gender-based violence, raise awareness about such violations and provide hands-on information about referral mechanisms,” added Asr.

So far, UNFPA has identified and engaged with 20 municipalities from central, western, south, mountain and eastern regions of Libya that have some degree of women representation. Furthermore, UNFPA has successfully mapped the existing GBV service providers at the community level. After identifying the most vulnerable groups of women, GBV risks and negative norms within individual communities, UNFPA has trained 396 individuals on GBV response and referral mechanisms along with GBV awareness. The trainees from different municipalities included media workers, housewives, youth, social workers, vulnerable women, schoolteachers, psychosocial workers, and women employees in governance structures.

As part of the project, UN Women is conducting capacity-building training to women members of the twenty municipal councils across Libya to enhance their gender-responsive governance, including their provision of humanitarian aid to women.  Additionally, UN Women is launching a social media campaign to raise awareness about violence against women in politics that continues to hinder women’s political participation, particularly in the light of the upcoming elections.

“Ending all forms of violence that women in Libya are exposed to is not only essential for their wellbeing and that of their communities, but also for Libya’s peaceful and prosperous future”, said Begoña Lasagabaster, UN Women Representative to Libya and Tunisia. “Municipal councils play an essential role in combating such violations and providing vital support to survivors. As such, we spare no effort to support them in making their communities safer places for women and girls so they can equally and freely participate in and contribute to Libya’s social, economic and political life.” 

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