Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Faculty of Law


This thesis explores the relationship between the rights of women at work and their rights as mothers. It considers how these two sets of rights, as protected under international human rights law, can and should be recognised and promoted within the Libyan legal system. The project will examine the theoretical and practical operation of relevant Libyan laws in the context of the standards set by international human rights law, including the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) as well as the International Labour Organisation (ILO) conventions, the three Maternity Protection Conventions and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention (C111).

This thesis is an attempt to explore, and where applicable suggest some solutions to the problem of conflict, between work and motherhood. It will assess the adequacy of existing Libyan laws and, where warranted, recommend amendments and reforms to ensure the protection of both rights. The project aims to facilitate the enjoyment by working women of their rights as both independent workers and as mothers, without requiring a choice of one role over the other.

This thesis will examine Libyan employment laws in relation to working mothers. Moreover, it will investigate the steps that have been taken within the Libyan legal system to prevent discrimination and to encourage participation. This will then lead to an examination of how and why participation continues to be limited.

This research will include a review of primary and secondary materials on relevant international human rights law in order to determine what is expected of state parties in regard to respecting work rights and motherhood rights (including maternity leave).

A ‘qualitative research approach’ will be used to conduct the study and collect the research data. It is claimed that the data collected by this method can provide rich and in-depth understanding of the area under investigation. One form of the qualitative research approach or method is the semi-structured interview. This approach will be used in this study. It is defined as a flexible type of interview in which the interviewer begins with a number of defined questions but these often include open-ended questions which promote a broader range of responses than those anticipated. The researcher is thus able to take advantage of relevant material that is disclosed. Material collected will be analysed to provide a view of the contemporary experience of Libyan women, particularly as it relates to the intersection of pregnancy and motherhood with their working lives.

This study attempts to make radical and practical contributions to the current Libyan legal regime. It is hoped that its findings and recommendations can lead to the improvement of employment laws and other legislation, especially where it relates to maternity leave and other issues affecting the lives of working mothers. In this way, the study will make a contribution to the scholarly literature in this area of human rights norms, and can also offer some practical steps to strengthen Libyan laws and regulations in this field as they relate to working women’s rights. These changes will benefit Libyan women and provide them with ways to possess and enjoy their rights both as mothers and as independent working women who can play an effective role in the broader Libyan society. If implemented, the changes put forward will have a positive effect on the Libyan economy, including an increase in women’s participation rates in the workforce that will achieve the country’s desired goal of increased national productivity and also raise the standard of living for many families.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.