“We came, we saw, he died,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joked on a CBS interview when told about the death of Libyan Dictator Muammar Qaddafi on October 20, 2011. Prior to the overthrow of the Gaddafi government, Muslim women in Libya were the beneficiaries of gender sensitive policies encouraging advanced education and entrepreneurism through small business loans. These western-focused policies were created to give Libyan women equal access to economic resources, such as finance and land ownership.
Having spent extensive time in Libya since the U.S. sanctions were lifted by the Bush Administration in 2004, I personally witnessed Libyan women surging in the private sector. It was increasingly common to see Muslim women dressed like women in the Western world with no headscarf. At that time, Libyan women were afforded “the choice” on how they dressed.