Gaddafi: “I promised my mother to improve the situation of women in Libya”
Summary of story from All Africa, October 27, 2011
The world might remember him as a despot, dictator and murderer, but writer Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi argues in this article that the slain Libyan leader, Colonel Muammar Gaddafi had one virtue – he took good care of women.
Not only did he support them, she writes, but he also believed in their abilities and emancipation in a society where women normally take a back seat.
Central to Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution was the empowerment of women. His new regime made efforts to advance female emancipation, she argues.
The new government encouraged women to participate in Libya’s political life and several cabinet posts were allocated to them. Women were also able to form associations.
During Gaddafi’s reign, women also made great strides in employment, with improved access to education and acceptance of female paid employment.
In 1970, the government passed a series of laws regulating female employment, including equal pay for equal work.
Child marriages were also banned and the minimum legal age to marry was set at 18.
“I promised my mother to improve the situation of women in Libya,” he reportedly said. His mother, a Bedouin tribeswoman born when Libya was an Italian colony, was illiterate.
“Without the leader, women in Libya would be nothing,” Fatia, a 27-year-old bodyguard trainee in Tripoli, once told a researcher.
“He gave us life. I am ready to die for him. He is a father, a brother and a friend to whom you can confide. You have no idea how humble he is.”
Gaddafi’s love affair with women stretched beyond Libya’s borders.
Rebels ransacking his palace found an odd photo album consisting of page after page of snapshots of the former US Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice.
“I admire and am very proud of the way she leans back and gives orders to the Arab leaders… Leezza, Leezza, Leezza… I love her very much,” Gaddafi told Al Jazeera during an interview in 2007.
The flamboyant colonel once declared: “I love a girl in uniform”. He had 40 lip-sticked, uniformed girls who were charged with his security.
WVoN comment: I just wonder whether this woman has read any of the coverage about Gaddafi and his henchmen who allegedly blackmailed women into working for him and then repeatedly raped them. Not so much emancipation as sexual slavery, perhaps.