Programme: North Africa

Advocating for women’s inclusion in higher education in Jakharra

SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty

Jakharra is a small town in eastern Libya where social and gender norms are rather restrictive towards the role of women in the public sphere. Since its inception in 2017, the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership is committed to expanding women’s inclusion both within the partnership itself and in the wider community, despite the challenging environment in which it operates. Because of its commitment to women’s inclusion, PCi selected the partnership to pilot a Gender and Security workshop in February 2023.

The aim of the Gender and Security workshop is to bridge the gap between men and women’s understandings of security. The workshop has a particular focus on encouraging men to reflect on how they can contribute to enhancing women’s security. A recent assessment, conducted by PCi, provided useful insights on the ways in which women and men’s notions and experiences of ‘security’ differ. The assessment also highlighted that men are often unaware of the range of security challenges faced by women daily.

Gender and Security workshop: understanding challenges around security

The workshop in Jakharra brought together a range of members from the Social Peace Partnership. They included local CSOs, the Municipal Women’s Empowerment Office (WEO) and the local Higher Education College and Faculty of Energy’s student union. Both women and men attended the workshop. First working as separate groups, then together, they exchanged on perceptions, experiences, and the challenges they face around security.

A key finding was that women in Jakharra face significant obstacles in accessing higher education opportunities. Most women in Jakharra do not pursue further studies after their high school degree. The closest university college considered as ‘appropriate’ or ‘suitable’ for women to attend is in the town of Jalu, 40km away. The geographic distance prevents most women from attending because they are not willing, or not allowed, to commute alone due to security risks and prevailing social norms.

SPP members during Security workshop in February 2023
SPP members during Security workshop in February 2023

To date, young women have not been able to enrol in the only higher education institution based in Jakharra, the Faculty of Energy. This is due to a combination of factors, including security risks as well as perceptions and concerns from female students and their families about attending a male-dominated and mixed environment. Also, engineering has not traditionally been a field in which women are encouraged to study or pursue a career.

Finding solutions to encourage women’s inclusion in higher education

Following the workshop, the partnership collaborated with the Faculty of Energy and the Municipality to facilitate a series of meetings to identify steps to take to encourage female enrolment. The SPP also met with department heads at the faculty, most welcomed the idea of women’s inclusion, because having more teachers and supported plans to expand the university. The partnership then proposed an initiative to enrol female students and convinced the dean to move forward with the project. They also engaged with parents of female students in Jakharra to advocate for their daughters’ higher education and address their concerns.

“We learned from the training that finding like-minded allies in the institution is an important step, as well as building a consensus by developing a case for the project that shows how every stakeholder – and how society as a whole – benefits from furthering women’s education.”

– Salheen Awam, Head of the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership

On 13 August 2023, the Faculty of Energy published a joint statement by its president, Abdulmalek Hamed, and the Jakharra Social Peace Partnership Head, Salheen Awam, announcing that female students could start the enrolment process by March 2024. The faculty is currently building and equipping new study halls dedicated to female students.

The importance of integrating gender in community-level peacebuilding

While still in its initial phase, this project makes clear the importance of integrating gender into community-level peacebuilding and of doing so in ways that are sensitive and responsive to the local context. The Jakharra partnership has successfully advocated for social change and for greater women’s inclusion in higher education. Collaborating with both men and women has also proven effective at shifting attitudes and turning the role of men from gatekeepers to allies.

PCi will continue to monitor this project, particularly after the start of the enrolment period in March 2024. We will also capture any learning that can help Social Peace Partnerships across Libya put in place similar initiatives.

SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty
SPP members in a meeting with Jaber Mayloud, the dean of the Oil and Gas Department at the faculty

These activities are part of the project ‘Social Peace and Local Development’, funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office. Integrating gender across all aspects of programming is a core focus of this project. In collaboration with Social Peace Partnerships, we implement a range of gender-focused initiatives. These include providing women with meaningful participation and leadership opportunities within SPP projects and collaborating with men as allies to create a safer environment for women’s inclusion and participation.

Impact report: Social Peace and Local Development programme

This publication showcases the impact and reach of our Social Peace and Local Development programme since 2022. The report highlights key results the programme has achieved, including the total number of project participants supported, our ongoing work on Women, Peace and Security, the impact of regional Social Peace Hubs, and the geographic reach of the project across Libya’s political divides.

The Social Peace and Local Development programme is rooted in community level peacebuilding. Social Peace Partnerships function as community-led local conflict management mechanisms. They bring together municipal authorities with community leaders, civil society representatives and business leaders to establish inclusive, participatory local decision-making processes. These support relationship-building between citizens and the local municipality, helping to build trust and legitimacy, while also strengthening social cohesion. Social Peace Partnerships have demonstrated an impact on conflict prevention and strengthening local governance.

PCi also convenes Social Peace Partnerships to operate as Regional Social Peace Hubs. This enables leaders from different towns in Libya to think and act beyond the narrative of “city states” isolated from a share of the Libyan national identity. Through the Hubs, leaders think regionally and nationally about how to solve problems faced by multiple communities and build much needed networks between towns. The Hubs have demonstrated capacity to solve shared problems through regional approaches that build relationships between towns and between the towns and national authorities.

Since the inception of the programme in 2013, PCi has introduced the Social Peace and Local Development methodology in 45 municipalities out of 143 across Libya. This means our programming has positively impacted on the lives of approximately 3.5 million people who live in these areas. Looking forward, the programme will support developments in the Libyan political dialogue process and advocate for Civil Society expansion through mobilising the existing peacebuilding infrastructure across the country.

Read the impact report now:

Impact report: Social Peace and Local Development (English)

How Social Peace Partnerships responded to the Storm Daniel emergency 

SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, unloading aid trucks sent from west Libya.

In the aftermath of Storm Daniel, Social Peace Partnerships across Libya quickly mobilised to respond to the unprecedented emergency in eastern Libya.

Above: SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, unloading aid trucks sent from west Libya.

As the world grapples with the impact of the climate breakdown, countries with weak infrastructure, failed governance and limited climate change preparedness such as Libya are particularly vulnerable to its consequences. On September 10 2023, Storm Daniel – a rare tropical Mediterranean storm – hit eastern Libya. Cities across the region witnessed torrential rain and high-speed winds. Due to poor drainage and water management systems, heavy flooding led to substantial damage of infrastructure, particularly the destruction of the poorly maintained dams and irrigation systems.

The city of Derna bore the brunt of the damage and experienced the most disastrous consequences when two dams collapsed, causing devastating flooding downstream and wiping out entire neighbourhoods. At the time of writing this article, about 5,000 people were confirmed to have died, while around 10,000 were still missing and about 30,000 were displaced.     

While the response from both governments was slow, Libyan citizens and civil society organisations across the country immediately mobilised to provide emergency support and aid to communities in the affected areas. The eastern Regional Hub and many Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) across the country responded promptly by collecting donations, sending aid, coordinating psychosocial support initiatives, resettling internally displaced persons (IDPs) within host communities, and reconnecting orphaned children with their extended families. This tragedy was deeply felt by Libyans as a moment of national unity and the spontaneous response from civil society and ordinary citizens provided a positive narrative of solidarity and reconciliation. 

Members of Nalut SPP loading trucks with aid to send to victims of the floods in Derna.
Above: Members of Nalut SPP loading trucks with aid to send to victims of the floods in Derna.

Social Peace Partnerships quickly responded to eastern Libya’s Storm Daniel emergency

The Derna SPP, located at the epicentre of the disaster, was one of the first SPPs to respond by contributing to efforts to recover bodies of victims, and facilitating access to areas that were inaccessible by clearing roads and access points. The SPP has also been working voluntarily with security forces and local organisations outside the city to coordinate access and facilitate the distribution of aid into Derna to those communities that are most vulnerable. This coordinated response highlights the value and utility of the SPPs, which work as crisis management and coordination mechanisms, providing support to vulnerable communities and mobilising responses in partnership with civil society organisations, relief agencies and government authorities.

The SPP in Sahel, another area impacted by the floods, also intervened in the aftermath of Storm Daniel. Abdulsalam Alsakta, a member of the Sahel SPP, recounted the challenge they faced: 

The municipality of Sahel stretches across 160km with 18 local communities located along the coast, which has made the response efforts particularly difficult. There have been 50 victims in our municipality and this number will rise. 260 families in Bayda have been displaced due to the damage to their homes from the floods, and another 42 homes in Hamama were completely destroyed. From day one, the SPP created an emergency room and have been working across Al-Sahel to address emerging health issues and provide support to the displaced, but the situation is dire and our resources are limited.

The SPPs in cities surrounding Derna also rushed to help, both through the delivery of aid and through the provision of logistical support to displaced families. The initiatives delivered by SPPs across the region, which saw them mobilise their own members and networks to provide relief support to those affected by storm Daniel, highlight the ability and confidence of the SPPs to work beyond their Municipality borders and cooperate regionally with other SPPs and partners.  

Strom Daniel response shows Social Peace Partnerships play a crucial role at community and regional levels

The countrywide response to the flooding due to Storm Daniel is a testament to the crucial role that Social Peace partnerships play, underlining the ability of the SPPs to overcome geographical and political divisions and resource constraints in order to help those most in need. The existing infrastructure of the SPPs, their substantial experience in crisis management, their networks and relationships with governmental and non-government institutions, and their ongoing efforts to create partnerships regionally and nationally have contributed to a lifesaving, coordinated response.

From the interventions implemented by the SPPs, it is important to highlight that the SPPs mobilised support independently of Peaceful Change initiative, which is a testament to their growing confidence and autonomy as critical peacebuilding, crisis management and governance support structures that can sustain and resource their work with limited international input, delivering initiatives that have made tangible contributions to relief efforts. 

SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, by the sea in Derna looking for bodies of civilians that were swiped by Storm Daniel.
Above: SPP members volunteering for the Red Crescent, by the sea in Derna looking for bodies of civilians that were swiped.

Integrating climate security analysis into Social Peace Partnership initiatives

In Libya, the impact of climate change is heightened by the absence of a unified government and by fragile state institutions, which translate into a lack of accountability to implement climate adaptation measures; climate pressures also act as an accelerator of conflict, fuelling community tensions and more competition over natural resources. For this reason, we are working to integrate climate security analysis into our programming, with a particular focus on how climate security interacts with gender, peace and conflict dynamics.

We are exploring how SPPs can better integrate climate security analysis into the design of their social peace initiatives across Libya. We believe SPPs can play an instrumental role in sensitising local communities on the risks and threats of climate change, and want to support them to advocate for improving climate change preparedness, including by championing a greater role for women, young people, and marginalised communities in decision making on resource management and climate adaptation.

Conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the Libya Storm Daniel response

The consequences of the floods resulting from Storm Daniel on 10 and 11 September pose an urgent and unprecedented humanitarian emergency in communities in the East of Libya. The disaster, moreover, overlays Libya’s complex conflict environment, which will be shaped by this emergency and the response.  Failing to acknowledge this when providing international assistance risks exacerbating tensions, contributing to structural drivers of conflict and overlooking potential opportunities to contribute to sustainable peace.

This note provides a brief overview of conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the international response to Storm Daniel in Libya which can be identified at this early stage of the response. It is intended to inform planners and implementers and identifies both issues to be considered as part of a conflict sensitive response and recommendations for potential ways to mitigate these.

The note can be viewed and downloaded in English on the link below:

Download here

For further information, please contact:


Lamis Ben Aiyad
Conflict Sensitivity Advisor
Peaceful Change initiative
lamis.aiyad@peacefulchange.org


Tim Molesworth
Senior Advisor: Conflict Sensitivity and Peace Technology
Peaceful Change initiative
tim.molesworth@peacefulchange.org

Conflict Sensitivity resources for international assistance providers in Libya

As part of the Conflict Sensitive Assistance forum in Libya, PCi has developed a number of resources for international assistance providers working in the country to inform the conflict sensitivity of their activities.

  • The Conflict Sensitivity Manual for Libya provides guidance for international assistance providers on applying conflict sensitivity within their activities, particularly relevant within the Libyan context.  The manual looks at the basics of conflict sensitivity, what it is and why it is important in Libya.  It then provides practical guidance to integrating conflict sensitivity in practice.  It also provides specific tools which international assistance providers can use to identify and respond to conflict sensitivity considerations within their activities.

CSA Conflict Sensitivity Manual for Libya June 2022

يونيوليبياحـالــــة النـــزاع فيمنهجيـــة مراعـــــاةدليل ارشـــادي حول

  • The Conflict Sensitivity Risks, Trade-offs and Opportunities resource provides a reference for international assistance providers to review common conflict sensitivity interactions in Libya and apply adaptations to their own programming.

CSA Forum Conflict Sensitivity Risk Resource June 2022

Integrating Gender into community-level peacebuilding: Lessons from Libya

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives in more than 40 Libyan municipalities. This report captures our experience and lessons learned from nearly 10 years of integrating gender into our programme. Key lessons include: 

  • Using a gender lens to analyse conflict was key to increasing community understanding of why women’s agency in local peace and conflict should not be underestimated 
  • Understanding interests and needs of diverse groups of women helped to offer relevant incentives for them to engage in local peacebuilding activities 
  • Working with men on their attitudes and behaviours and identifying ‘male allies’ helped to create a safer space for women to participate 
  • Funding and opportunities for women to strengthen their leadership skills and implement their own initiatives represented an important tool to deepen women’s participation 
  • Safely raising the visibility of women peace leaders helped shift social perceptions towards women and their role in peace and decision making 

Download the full report

Find out more about the Social Peace and Local Development (SPLD) programme

integrating gender into our programmes

Unpacking the Impact of Conflict Economy Dynamics on Six Libyan Municipalities

The PCi report: ‘Unpacking the impact of conflict economy dynamics on six Libyan municipalities’ includes policy recommendations to mitigate the impact of the conflict economy in Libya.

Peaceful Change initiative’s (PCi) new report, ‘Unpacking the Impact of Conflict Economy Dynamics on Six Libyan Municipalities’ fills an important gap in our understanding of conflict dynamics in Libya, arguing that political elites and armed groups cannot be assessed in a vacuum, without exploration of the socio-economic context of the communities that they claim to represent. The research takes a localised approach, exploring factors that influence local conflict economy dynamics, which vary from area to area. It is also a human centred approach, viewing Libyans as participants in the local conflict economy – both willing and unwilling – rather than only as passive victims of the conflict-affected environment in which they live.

The report concludes that reducing the societal impact of Libya’s conflict economy cannot rely solely on high level elite bargains – and a top-down approach to security sector reform. National level conflict dynamics and local instability are linked and this must be tackled via a twin track approach whereby local interventions are supported by the implementation of national-level reforms that address structural issues. In addition, in support of local social cohesion, the paper recommends the establishment of economic-social peace partnerships that promote pro-peace business activities across conflict divides. It also recommends conflict sensitive livelihood and peacebuilding interventions that minimise the risk of assistance worsening conflict dynamics, and that maximise opportunities to contribute to sustainable peace.

Building a more inclusive peace: women’s inclusion and leadership

participants during a dialogue session organised by the Tripoli Centre SPP
Above: participants during a dialogue session organised by the Tripoli Centre SPP

A key part of our work in Libya focuses on ensuring women’s inclusion and leadership in peacebuilding and decision-making. To achieve this goal, we address structural and practical barriers, as well as physical risks, that limit women’s meaningful participation in building and sustaining peace.

While women in Libya play a fundamental role in building and maintaining social peace and cohesion, this role is often performed in informal settings. For example, through lobbying male family members, accessing neighbourhoods that are considered off-limits for men, or using their community management role to help dialogue between families or different communities. For instance, the decision of a woman not to seek revenge for the killing of her husband by members of another community group prevented a violent escalation that would have likely led to more killings and further conflict. 

But despite the diverse perspectives and unique contributions they can bring, women continue to face systemic exclusion from taking part in and leading efforts to improve social cohesion, inclusion, and security in their communities. When women’s voices are missing from peace efforts, their specific needs are often neglected, and we miss out on the perspectives and networks that they can bring to peace efforts. We are working alongside Social Peace Partnerships across Libya to change this.

Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) bring together a diverse group of local people, with a shared vision of Libya becoming a safe and inclusive country. Members include representatives from the local authority, civil society leaders, elders, community leaders, business owners and anyone who is interested in peacebuilding. PCi builds the skills of the SPP members through various trainings so they can solve community issues and develop an ongoing response mechanism to community conflict. PCi also helps to build positive relationships between the community and the local authorities. 

Since 2013, Peaceful Change initiative has been supporting community-level peacebuilding initiatives, through our Social Peace and Local Development programme, in over 40 Libyan municipalities. A core element of this work has been supporting women’s inclusion in peacebuilding efforts, ensuring women’s perspectives and needs are better reflected in decision-making, and understanding how different gendered experiences of conflict impact peacebuilding.  

Working with Social Peace Partnerships to advance women’s inclusion and leadership in peace efforts 

Since the start of this programme, Social Peace Partnerships have made great strides in advancing women’s representation, participation, leadership and visibility in peace efforts. Women are now represented in all Social Peace Partnerships, where they make up 39% of members on average, and women now play an active role in the regular planning and implementation of activities. In some Social Peace Partnerships, women were also elected to leadership roles such as Chairperson positions. 

Social Peace Partnerships across Libya have created an environment which fosters women’s leadership skills, from peacebuilding to crisis management, local development, and governance. Women have successfully conceptualised, designed, and implemented initiatives funded by Peaceful Change initiative which address women’s perspectives and needs.  

Women’s leadership and contributions to projects implemented by Social Peace Partnerships have been crucial in gaining wider acceptance among male peers of the need for greater women’s participation. Within many Social Peace Partnerships, women’s leadership in the design and implementation of projects is now considered key to making initiatives more effective and sustainable. For example, some women-led initiatives have been endorsed by local authorities through long-term funding. The success of these initiatives has played a significant role in positively shifting views on women’s participation. 

Similarly, many male members recognise that projects implemented with active female members are often delivered more efficiently and on time. Some of these projects have become self-sustainable through income generation and have gone on to support other initiatives run by women for women.

Above: awareness-raising seminars around peaceful co-existence and citizenship rights in Tobruk

Shifting perceptions around women’s role in peacebuilding and decision-making 

To shift social views around the role of women in peacebuilding and decision-making, Social Peace Partnerships work to amplify the voices and stories of women leaders in peace and social initiatives. This is key to ensuring that a diverse range of women can be models in their own communities and inspire younger and less active women to imagine a different role for themselves.  

For example, Khadija attended a peacebuilding training for women in Ubari which gave her the drive and confidence to set up the Noor Al-Alam Centre, which among other activities delivers psychological support to children affected by conflict. “Attending a workshop on peacebuilding and seeing all those women [from different communities] working together despite our differences motivated me to establish a centre that brings people from the different groups together for trainings and other social initiatives.”  

In areas where social norms are less accepting of women’s presence in the public sphere, Social Peace Partnerships have been able to build trust with key local actors and secure a higher acceptance of women’s role in peacebuilding and decision-making processes. This is reflected by an increased willingness by many male members to be women’s inclusion advocates and allies. In some cases, Social Peace Partnerships have concretely supported women leaders in their communities, for example through backing their candidacy in local elections. 

Through their continued efforts, Social Peace Partnerships are making an important contribution to shifting the role of women in peacebuilding and sustaining peace in Libya. To learn more about this work, you can read our report which captures our experience and lessons learned from 10 years of integrating gender into our peacebuilding programme in Libya.  

Conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the Libya Storm Daniel response

The consequences of the floods resulting from Storm Daniel on 10 and 11 September pose an urgent and unprecedented humanitarian emergency in communities in the East of Libya. The disaster, moreover, overlays Libya’s complex conflict environment, which will be shaped by this emergency and the response.  Failing to acknowledge this when providing international assistance risks exacerbating tensions, contributing to structural drivers of conflict and overlooking potential opportunities to contribute to sustainable peace.

This note provides a brief overview of conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the international response to Libya Storm Daniel which can be identified at this early stage of the response. It is intended to inform planners and implementers and identifies both issues to be considered as part of a conflict sensitive response and recommendations for potential ways to mitigate these.

The note can be viewed and downloaded in English on the link below:

Download here

For further information, please contact:


Lamis Ben Aiyad
Conflict Sensitivity Advisor
Peaceful Change initiative
lamis.aiyad@peacefulchange.org


Tim Molesworth
Senior Advisor: Conflict Sensitivity and Peace Technology
Peaceful Change initiative
tim.molesworth@peacefulchange.org

Championing the voices of Libya’s youth peace leaders

The ‘Bader’ campaign was launched on Facebook on 17 February 2021, on the 10-year anniversary of the Libyan uprising. The campaign provided a platform for young leaders from different communities in Libya to talk about their experiences of promoting peace, social cohesion, and women’s inclusion. By amplifying the voices of young peace activists, Bader sought to inspire others to take action. Within a month of its launch, the Bader Facebook page had received 15,000 likes and over 500 stories had been submitted by young activists across Libya. Through the campaign, 3 young leaders were selected to receive grants of up to 20,000 LYD to implement their projects. The profiles of 19 of Bader’s most outstanding participants are outlined in this booklet.

The direct link to this flipbook is here and you can view as plain pdf here