Stories from women and youth as bridge builders in Libya

From 2016 to 2020, a consortium led by Cordaid, in partnership with Human Security Collective (HSC) and eight civil society organisations based in Libya, implemented the ‘Women and Youth as bridge builders’ programme in Libya. The evaluation of the programme showed that it had a profound impact on the activists’ perceptions of themselves as bridge builders and it helped to positively change their attitudes and beliefs about gender and their own rights, particularly for the male participants.

End-term evaluation and Sprockler

As the programme finished, an end-term evaluation of this programme was conducted early 2021, by Nele Blommestein, Caroline van Koot and Fatima Moussawi. A variety of methods was used, including the collection of stories of participating activists using the Sprockler tool. The activists were asked a series of open questions, inviting them to describe their experiences as bridge-builders, as well as a series of closed questions to more precisely categorise their answers to the open questions. A total of 35 responses were collected, with seven out of the eight partner organisations represented.

Activists’ changed perceptions

Almost all stories of activists, both men and women, describe a profound impact of the programme on their belief system.

“The impact was on my own perception. I am one of the people who were not convinced about the role of women in society. I was more convinced that [her role] has to be related to work inside of the home. This is why I believe that the program changed my view, and I think that women should be more effective and act on the social level and not only inside the house.”
Male activist

Bonding with fellow activists

Some stories talk about how the activists, coming from different regions in the country, settled their differences in a constructive manner.

“There was a moment when we were all connected to each other as peace builders in Libya, it was in 2019 after the war in Tripoli, where everyone was emotionally charged. We had a chance to reflect deeply on our political opinions and how they affected our social relationships. It was a moment of truth when everyone in the group unpacked their feelings and started to blame and almost fight, but we reached a point where we all realized that we also can relate to each other, and each one of us is hurt and had their own experience. I think that was a moment where we all learned to solve our problems in a healthy way.”
Female activist

Spirit of perseverance

The evaluation noted that the programme was implemented with a spirit of perseverance and adaptation in what was a complex and highly dangerous context in Libya. Activists experienced great pressures on themselves and risks due to the fragile security situation, yet found solutions to implement their initiatives and showed remarkable dedication and resilience throughout the programme implementation. Unfortunately, no continued funding to support its implementation was granted.

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