Libya: Advancing women’s human rights in the constitutional reform process

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) and the Libyan Women’s Platform for Peace (LWPP) on 19 May 2021 convened a webinar on ‘Advancing women’s human rights in the constitutional reform process in Libya’.

The webinar was moderated by Zahra’ Langhi, co-founder and director of LWPP, with speakers: Jaziah Shaitier, Professor at the Criminal Law Department, University of Benghazi; Ibtisam Bahih, member of the Constitution Drafting Assembly; Nahla Haidar, Vice-Chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and an ICJ Commissioner from Lebanon; and Azza Maghur, a Libyan lawyer.

In her opening remarks, Zahra’ Langhi stressed that advancing women’s rights in in the constitutional reform process should not be limited to the protections of women’s rights in the draft Constitution, which were any way inadequate,  but also the effective the participation of women in the entire constitutional-making  process

Jaziah Shaitier focused her remarks on the limitations the Constitution:

“I had hoped that the constitutional process that followed the Revolution would state clearly that any person born to a Libyan father or a Libyan mother would be Libyan.”

“Libya needs gender-inclusive constitutional provisions, and implementing laws that would protect women against all forms of violence”, Shaitier said.

Langhi pointed out that Libyan women who are married to non-Libyans cannot even access essential COVID-19 vaccines.

Nahla Haidar spoke of the importance of states to comply with their obligations under the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), a treaty to which Libya is a party:

“Sharia’s place within the Constitution should be made clear, otherwise there would be no need for a Constitution at all.”

Haidar also stressed the need to address problematic provisions in the Libyan Draft Constitution, including draft discriminatory provisions and provisions perpetuating stereotypes about the role of women and men in society and in the family. “Women may also choose not to start a family at all, and that should not have any bearing on the enjoyment of their rights.”

Azza Maghur highlighted the inadequate representation of women in the Libyan constitutional process:

“Libyans dreamed of a Constitution that is theirs, one that guarantees rights and liberties. The representation of women was not adequate.”

A member of the Constitution Drafting Assembly herself, Dr Ibtissam Bahih, highlighted how the process had failed Libyan women, and how the need for reform was as urgent as ever.

You can watch the full webinar here


Said Benarbia, Director, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, t: +41-22-979-3817; e: said.benarbia(a)

Asser Khattab, Research and Communications Officer, ICJ Middle East and North Africa Programme, e: asser.khattab(a)

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