Activists Welcome Appointment of Female Ministers in Libya’s Government

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Libya’s first female foreign minister, Najla Al-Mangoush will be sworn in next week as part of the new National Unity Government (GNU). Her appointment was welcomed by Libyan activists on Thursday.

Al-Mangoush, a lawyer who had a role in the National Transitional Council (NTC) which briefly governed Libya after the 2011 uprising, will be joined by four other women in the cabinet, including Halima Abdel-Rahman, as justice minister.

“I think this is a win for all women in Libya. I hope it’s a first step to going further: a woman reaching head of government,” said Afia Mohammed, 34, a pastry maker in Tripoli, adding it would encourage more women to enter politics.

Prime Minister Abdel-Hamid Dbaiba’s interim government emerged through a United Nations peace process, and is mandated to unify Libya’s divided state institutions and oversee national elections in December.

The 75 Libyan delegates selected by the UN to take part in the Libyan Political Dialogue Forum (LPDF) talks laid out a commitment for the new government to reserve 30% of senior government roles for women, including in top cabinet posts.

Elham Saudi, a lawyer and LPDF member said, “It’s a stepping stone towards fuller representation.” She said the quota was a result of women in the forum being “absolutely relentless on this point” despite having major differences on other political issues.

“This will give an opportunity for other women to join the work in sovereign positions. The five ministers will be role models,” said Lamees Bin Saad, a women’s rights activist and member of the LPDF. “We have been fighting a long time for this gain.”