Article: Women in Libya

An article written by Libyan Amazigh activist Asma Khalifa has recently appeared in a collection on North African women and the recent revolutions.

Asma Khalifa, “Women in Libya: The Ongoing Armed Conflict, Political Instability and Radicalization”, in North African Women after the Arab Spring: In the Eye of the Storm, edited by Larbi Touaf, Soumia Boutkhil, Chourouq Nasri (Springer, 2017), 239–249.

About the book:

“This book looks with hindsight at the Arab Spring and sheds light on the debates it triggered within North African societies and the alarming developments in women’s rights. Although women played a key role in the success of the uprisings that wiped out long ruling oligarchies across the region, they remain excluded from decision-making circles and the formal political and electoral apparatus. Women’s rights are written off constitution drafts, and issues of gender equality are hardly addressed. The chapters that compose this volume present research and reflections from different perspectives to help the reader get a better picture of the profound turmoil that beset this part of the so-called “Arab” World. Adopting an interdisciplinary perspective, the contributors discuss a host of questions related to women and gender in the Arab world and address the broader question of why women’s efforts and momentum during the revolution did not seem to pay off the same way they did for men. This book provides an assessment of the situation from the inside. It is intended to help the general public as well as the academic world comprehend the significance of what is going on in this key part of the Islamic World.”

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An Oil Boom, Women, and Changing Traditions

Fikry, Mona. 1978. “An Oil Boom, Women, and Changing Traditions: A study of Libyan women in Benghazi.” In Folklore in the Modern World, ed. R. Dorson. Mouton: The Hague, pp. 65–76. [PDF]

This is an article about the modernization of Libya after the discovery of oil and its effects on the lives and roles of women in Benghazi. The article discusses in particular the suppression of the social and cultural lives of women in connection with modernizing forces, such as mass media, and draws attention to the declining visibility of, and place for, folklore and oral literature–which except for traditional poetry was mostly transmitted and performed by women. Fikry notes, for example, that:

“Tale-telling, called khurrafat in Libya, used to be an essential part of family entertainment in towns, villages, and tents, but in the city it has now all but disappeared to be replaced by television. The time that young children spent listening to tales is now spent studying, reading magazines, or watching television. Rare are the occasions when tales are told and few are the young urban women who know any tales to tell. Even the special night devoted to tale-telling during the wedding celebration is now firmly linked with the past.”