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Verveer On Role Of Women In Libya

Alaa Elshiekh, right, and her sister Yosev Elshiekh, celebrate the revolution against Moammar Gadhafi's regime and ask for more women's rights in Tripoli, Libya, Friday, Sept. 2, 2011.

"Women are on the frontlines of change around the globe, and they are changing the world by taking on the hardest issues."

"Women are on the frontlines of change around the globe, and they are changing the world by taking on the hardest issues," said U.S. Ambassador-at-large for Global Women's Issues Melanne Verveer.

Speaking to the 2nd annual One Voice International Women's Conference, she noted that "women and men together have led the revolutions that brought the promise of democracy and dignity in their countries. Unfortunately, women are too often viewed as victims, not as powerful agents of change that they are," she said. And this is certainly true of women in Libya.

In Libya women played a vital role in the revolution but were largely shut out of the transitional process after liberation. In the most recent parliamentary elections, however, 33 women were elected to the National Congress. These women have joined together to form a cross-party bloc, dedicated to promoting democracy and women's rights over party, region, or ideology.

The United States believes that women's voices are just as important in matters of national governance and security as men's. That is why President Barack Obama in 2011 launched the first-ever U.S. National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security, which lays out a plan to accelerate and institutionalize efforts across the U.S. government to advance women's participation in making and keeping peace.

The U.S. is seeking to better engage, ensure the protection of, and empower women and girls across the world. In Libya, promoting an independent judiciary, transitional justice, and establishing the rule of law are critical components to the success of the country, said Ambassador Verveer. "We cannot wait for law enforcement to be ready to address gender-based violence. If Libya is not secure for women, it is not truly secure," she said.

"In some post-revolutionary countries," said Ambassador Verveer, "women are being marginalized, their rights threatened and their progress threatened." That must not happen in Libya, she said, as the country begins the critical process of writing the constitution. Women’s rights are human rights and every woman has the right to live up to her God-given potential, said Ambassador Verveer.

The United States will do all it can to support the work of securing a just, peaceful and prosperous Libya.