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Interview with Gahida Altwati ‏غيداء التواتي

Ghaida al-Tawati was associated with Libyan Journalists Union under Gaddafi and she continues to work as an independent activist. She is the daughter of an ex-prisoner; she has maintained an active presence in the anti-Gaddafi blogosphere since 2005 and was the only female participant of the 2009 Human Rights Watch Conference in Tripoli.  She was eventually imprisoned for a period of three months during Gaddafi's rule and now combines her activism with her beliefs as a moderate Muslim.

 

She supports the creation of a muftiat, or council of jurists, to monitor the application of sharia and the declaration of fatwas.  She also does not believe the political situation has dramatically improved since the fall of Gaddafi. In reference to recent protests over proposed electoral laws: “Nothing changed. Actually the opposite of what we expected happened. Many people were beaten, arrested and kidnapped by armed people…Even when we protested, my colleagues and I were cursed and humiliated.”

 

She said that tribal traditions on gender segregation complicate women’s political participation: “Here, we face a big problem. Women don't share the public's interests and worries since they are not in direct contact with the public.” This lack of contact with the public illustrates the effects of tribal traditions of gender segregation and exclusion, which contribute to an attitude toward women that al-Tawati describes as ‘fear’: ‘We should wait until men's fears of voting for women are gone, and until they can realize that women are worthy and are able to represent him in the next parliament.'


Both Langhi and Atwati wish to see women enter the public sphere. They are having a campaign to allow women to pass on Libyan citizenship to their children. Currently this right is limited to men. They also demand the ability to fully participate in the life of mosques since they believe that equality in public sphere is nothing if not matched by equality in the private sphere.

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