A seminar “Preparing for the First Elections - Women’s Political Empowerment in Libya” will be held in Tripoli, Libya with the funding of Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 15-16 May. The seminar is organised by The Voice of Libyan Women and Political Parties of Finland for Democracy, Demo Finland.
The purpose of the seminar is to support political involvement of Libyan women, as the country is preparing for its first elections since 1965. The approximately 150 participants of the seminar include both NGO representatives and political activists. On the second day of the seminar, Demo Finland will organise a workshop for female candidates preparing for the elections.
The event was opened by Finnish Ambassador to Tunisia and Libya Tiina Jortikka-Laitinen and Libyan Deputy Minister of Culture and Civil Society Atiyah al Ogly. In the seminar, Members of Finnish Parliament Mari Kiviniemi, Astrid Thors and Satu Haapanen share their experiences of acting as women in Finnish politics. Samira Merai Friaa, recently elected to the Constituent Assembly of Tunisia, tells about her own path into politics in the post-revolution situation.
In her speech, Mari Kiviniemi took a stand for participation of women. “I consider it important that all citizens are strongly involved in the building of Libyan democracy from the very beginning. It is essential for the balanced development of the entire society that participation of women in decision-making is made possible and secured in the same manner as that of men.
In the wave of democratisation of the Arab Spring, Libya was one of the countries where the former dictatorship was overthrown. Now Libya is in the process of establishing a democratic government after Muammar Gaddafi's 40-year rule. Tiina Kukkamaa-Bah, Acting Executive Director of Demo Finland explains: “This seminar is a good example of how Finnish female politicians can support their sisters in other parts of the world. Libya lacks democratic tradition and external support is important in order for the Libyans to establish a government based on a functional representative multi-party system. It is Demo Finland’s task to enable reciprocal learning and exchange of experiences.”
Demo Finland functions as a co-operative organisation for Finnish parliamentary parties. It seeks to enhance democracy by carrying out and facilitating collaborative projects between Finnish political parties and political movements in the developing countries.
Additional information in Libya: Risto Veltheim, Finland’s Special Envoy to the Libyan Transition Process, Ministry for Foreign Affairs, tel. +358 40 748 2697; Niklas Kaskeala, Demo Finland, tel. +358 50 586 6422; and MP Satu Haapanen, tel. +358 40 554 3514
Additional information in Finland on Friday, 18 May: Mari Kiviniemi (Sanna Lehtinen), tel. +358 9 432 3189; and
Astrid Thors (Pia-Maria Lindén-Linna), tel. +358 9 432 4100