Issraa Murabit is a 20 year old Libyan medical student and activist for women’s rights, youth, and transparency in media. She is the Vice President and Creative Director of the Libyan NGO The Voice of Libyan Women. She is also a radio presenter on current affairs in Libya and aims to highlight women’s participation in politics and the economy through widening their presence in the media.
In Libya’s transition to democracy, media is pivotal in every aspect. The core values of media are the cord that ties the people to the nation, elicits calls for accountability, transparency, and responsibility, particularly from those in positions of power. The most effective way to mobilize media as a resource to push for the betterment of our nation is through the energy of the country – embodied in the youth. We, as young Libyans striving for a fair democratic nation, need to take the responsibility of a transparent media as our own. We must realize that the young women and men of the country have been and will continue to be the catalysts of change. Where our weapons were guns, they should now be replaced with ink and knowledge.
A wide range of events in Libya, most recently the unlawful demolition of Sufi tombs, has highlighted the need for a stronger Libyan media, one that addresses the needs of the people and advocates not only for their right to transparency and freedom of speech, but also the underlining democratic ideals that have meant turmoil for the Libyan people in their aim to achieve one innate, simple result: the rule of law.
We as Libyan youth must aim to give specific attention to marginalized groups, particularly women and youth as well as minorities and those with special abilities, through strengthening the capacity of these marginalized groups by taking ownership of Libyan media. We need to become involved in our communities in a way that is more productive than sharing information through social networking or in cafes and restaurants and instead, translate that knowledge to written word and valid, spreadable information. Once we strengthen our own media, we will have created methods of communicating with the state, one another, and civil society. This in turn gives us the opportunity to hold others accountable when there is a divergence between what the people want and what the government acts on.
The most effective way to mobilize media as a resource to push for the betterment of our nation is through the energy of the country – embodied in the youth.
No one can deny the weakness of Libyan media – any strength it may have once shown has been broken by 40 years of abuse, reducing it to nothing more than a propaganda machine. However, we have begun with baby steps. Our growth in media and our involvement as youth in the decision-making processes our country currently faces rely on each other – we simply need to take action. While ways to do this are limited, you can start with simple steps.
So before you click ‘share’ and spread the word – double check. Make sure your source has facts and it’s legitimate. Your duty as a citizen kicks in long before protests and unrest – it is your duty to watch your country and to strive for a media that represents you and your views properly. Media is the only way to bring the needs and views of the citizens to light – and it is a tool that is currently being abused.