Institute for War and Peace Reporting | Giving Voice, Driving Change

Libya: We Are Pioneers

IWPR project highlights success stories and challenges preconceptions.
  • Rafiaa Al Abidi was the first female judge in Benghazi. (Still from video by
    Rafiaa Al Abidi was the first female judge in Benghazi. (Still from video by

Dr. Sania Mohamed

Dr. Sania Mohamed

Sania Mohamed was the first Libyan woman to become a doctor. After graduating from Parma Medical University in Italy, she returned home to work as a general practitioner at the Central Hospital in Tripoli. A social activist, she was also a member of the Libyan Women’s Association where she headed the health committee.

Mohamed remains extremely proud of her work as a doctor, especially the help and support she provided to individuals with disabilities.


Rafiaa Al Abidi

Rafiaa Al Abidi

Rafiaa Al Abidi was the first female judge in Benghazi. In 2003, she became a judicial counsellor at the Court of Appeal and in 2010 was appointed to the Libyan Supreme Court. Reflecting on her career, Al Abidi said that her most important achievement was publishing her own Judicial Encyclopedia.

“I believe, as do many other Libyan activists, that Libyan women are equal to men.”


Aisha Alasphar

Aisha Alasphar

Aisha Alasphar earned her private pilot’s license in the mid-1970s and went on to become a TV and radio presenter, an activist and an author. She founded the Zahart Scouts movement in Southern Libya, published five novels and received numerous prizes in Libya for her writing.

“Women should push to guarantee their rights in the constitution, and this can be achieved by seeking the support and expertise of legal female advisors and lawyers in Libya.”


Fawzia Altahar

Fawzia Altahar is a member of the Sabha and Bouwanise municipal council as well as a rights activist.  She is currently the municipal chairwoman representing people with disabilities.


“I am proud because I am representing women, especially those with disabilities. I believe that those with disabilities have a major role in building society and the capacity to get official government positions.”

Altahar also helped draft constitutional articles on disability rights and works to support economic development opportunities for communities in Libya.


Fadia Hamad

Fadia Hamad

Fadia Hamad is the first and only female deminer in Libya, working on demining in Sabha.

“I encourage women to follow their dreams and not listen to negative words. Many people look at demining as dangerous and risky... but for me it is humanitarian work.”

As coronavirus sweeps the globe, IWPR’s network of local reporters, activists and analysts are examining the economic, social and political impact of this era-defining pandemic.


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