Will Libya elect a woman as next president?

On December 24th, 2021, Libyans will be heading to the polls to elect a president. This marks a the beginning of a new chapter for Libya since the ousting and killing of former dictator Mu’ammar Ghaddafi in 2011. The elections are still uncertain to take place after a political deadlock. This follows turbulent decade marked by infighting among various groups.

One of the newer candidates who filed to run is Leila ben Khalifa. She is an activist who heads the National Movement party. If her candidacy is approved she will be the First Libyan woman to run in the presidential elections.

Leila ben Khalifa is born in 1975 in the city of Zawara, west of Libya. She was raised in the capital Tripoli. She worked in the media field before entering the political scene and heading the National Movement Party. Ben Khalifa has run for municipal elections in the Al Andalus municipality in the past.

Over the last 10 years, Bin Khalifa sought to have fair political representation for women. One of her demands is the allocation of the 30 per cent of government positions for women.

In a video in July, she stated that her “motivation is to change the stereotypical idea that public positions are exclusively for men and to show that women are essential partners to re-build Libya.”

More 65 candidates have applied to run in the elections. Among the candidates is the son of the formder dictator, Saif Al Islam Ghaddafi. However it appears that his candidacy is rejected on the grounds of being convicted in the past of a crime.