Gender Gap Index

The World Economic Forum does not include Libya in the most recent Global Gender Gap Reports.


Family Code/ Personal Status Law

  • Libya currently has no unified family code. Different laws relating to personal status are partly based on the Maliki school of Sunni Islam, and contain provisions that discriminate against women. Civil courts typically make decisions relating to personal status, as civil and Shari’ah courts have been merged since 1969.


  • The legal age of marriage is 20 years for both men and women in Libya, but judges can grant permission for marriage at an earlier age.
  • Early marriages are relatively rare in Libya. According to the United Nations, in 2006 2.4% of women between 15 and 19 years of age in Libya were married, divorced or widowed (compared to 39.6% in 1973).
  • Under Law No.10 of 1984 (Art.17) men and women have different responsibility during marriage and if dissolution. Wives are placed under legal obligation to ensure the comfort, physical and psychological well-being of their husbands, and to assume all domestic and childcare responsibilities; in return, she is entitled to financial support from her husband, control over her own income and assets, and the right to be free from psychological or physical violence.
  • In terms of parental authority, under Islamic law, the father is considered the natural guardian of his children, the mother the physical custodian.
  • Polygamy is legal in Libya, though relatively uncommon and on condition of the existing wife/wives consent.
  • Since the adoption of the 2010 Provisions of Libyan Nationality (Art. 11), Libyan women who marry foreign men may pass on their citizenship to their children


  • Men have the right to repudiate (divorce unilaterally) their wives, but such divorces must be registered with the court to be valid.
  • Women do not have the same right, and can only obtain a divorce under a limited number of conditions
  • Divorced women still face significant social stigma

Resources and Assets

  • Women have the legal right to own, manage and administer land and non-land assets. In practice, however, social convention dictates that men retain control and ownership of land.
  • This is despite the fact that according to a FAO report, extensive out-migration of men from rural areas in Libya has resulted in the effective ‘feminisation’ of agriculture, with women assuming more and more responsibility for agricultural production.
  • However, relatively few women actually own land (12%), and access to economic resources and assets continues to be a challenge for women in Libya.
  • Women also have the legal right to access financial services, including bank loans (without their husbands’ consent). They also have the right to enter into various forms of financial contracts.
  • In most cases, however, husbands or fathers take responsibility for any financial undertakings and commitments, and may also expect women to hand over their income
  • Shari'ah law provides for detailed and complex calculations of inheritance shares. Woman may inherit from their father, mother, husband or children and, under certain conditions, from other family members. However, their share is generally smaller than that to which men are entitled.


  • Discrimination based on gender in employment and pay is banned under the Labour Law (1970), although survey data indicates a significant disparity in earned incomes between the sexes, even when controlling for educational attainment.
  • Pregnant women are entitled to 50 days paid maternity leave in Libya


  • Article 17 of Law No. 10 of 1984 states that husbands should not cause physical or psychological harm to their wives, but beyond this, there is no legislation in place to protect women from domestic violence, or to penalize perpetrators.

Political Participation

Women's Political Participation Year Total Source
Number of women in parliament (single/lower house) 2014 30/188 IPU database
% of women in parliament 2014 15.96%
Legislated quotas for women for single/ lower house (yes/no) 2014 NO The Quota Project database


  • Equality between women and men is granted in the 1977 Declaration of the Authority of the People and the 1988 Great Green Charter of Human Rights in the Age of the Masses.
  • The 1997 Charter on the Rights and Duties of Women in Jamahiriya Society includes provisions to guarantee the equal rights of men and women in areas such as national security duties, marriage, divorce, child custody, and the right to work, social security, and financial independence.
  • However, these guarantees of equality are undermined by family law, which retains many discriminatory clauses.


  • Electoral law requires that candidates be listed based on gender rotation
  • According to Article 15 of the 2012 Law on the Election of the National General Congress, on the lists of candidates submitted by parties for the proportional representation contest, 'candidates shall be arranged on the basis of alternation among male and female candidates, vertically and horizontally. Lists that do not respect such principle shall not be accepted. The Commission shall publish samples showing the format of such lists and the method used to arrange the candidates within them'.
  • The General National Congress consists of 200 members, 120 of whom are elected by majority, based on a first-past-the-post system for single-member districts, where the winner is the candidate with the most votes. For multi-member districts, a single non-transferable vote system is adopted. The remaining 80 members are elected by proportional representation from closed electoral lists, presented by political entities in multi-member constituencies.


  • The unicameral Majilis Al-Nuwaab/ House of Representatives, last elected 25 June 2014, has 30/188 (15.96%) female representatives (directly elected)
  • There should be 200 members according to statute


CEDAW and reservations[6]

  • Libya ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1989, with reservations to the following articles (2, 16):
  • Article 2, of the Convention shall be implemented with due regard for the peremptory norms of the Islamic Shari’ah relating to determination of the inheritance portions of the estate of a deceased person, whether female or male.
  • Article 16, the implementation of paragraph 16 (c) and (d) of the Convention shall be without prejudice to any of the rights guaranteed to women by the Islamic Shari'ah.
  • Libya ratified the Optional Protocol to the Convention in 2004, and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

Economic Empowerment[7]

Women’s Economic Participation




Labour Force Participation

Ratio of female to male labour force participation rate (%)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Labour force participation, female (% of total labour force)



Labour force participation, female (% of female population 15-64)



Labour force participation, male (% of male population 15-64)



Youth Employment

Ratio of female to male youth unemployment rate (% aged 15-24)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank


Unemployment, female (% of female labour force)



World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank

Unemployment, male (% of male labour force)



Unemployment, total (% of total labour force)




  • According to the OECD Gender Index, women’s labour force participation is significantly lower than men's, with 43% of women reporting work for pay in the last week compared to 66% of men. Employment for both men and women has been significantly affected by the current conflict however.

Sectors of Work

  • Under the Labour Law, women are prohibited from working in 'strenuous or hazardous' jobs, from working at night, or from working more than 48 hours a week, including overtime.
  • Women also face pressure from husbands and family members not to enter professions where they will be mixing with men, and to work close to home; inevitably, these stipulations limit women’s employment options.

[1] All information on legislation has been sourced from the OECD Social Institutions and Gender Index, 2014: Unless stated otherwise.
[7] All information on economic empowerment has been sourced from the World Bank Gender Statistics Data Bank: Unless stated otherwise.