A segment of the women of Libya are some of Kaddafi's biggest fans because he's let them do stuff they otherwise wouldn't be able to do. Libya has one of the highest female participation rates in the labor market among Arab countries.
“Moammar Gadhafi is the one who opened the opportunities for us to advance. That’s why we cling to him, that’s why we love him,” says Mansour. “He gave us complete freedom as a woman to enter the police force, work as engineers, pilots, judges, lawyers. Anything.”
Among Gadhafi’s most ardent loyalists are a core of Libyan women who have risen to high-profile roles in the police, military and government and credit Gadhafi with giving them greater career avenues than many of their sisters elsewhere in the Arab world. They consider any threat to his regime a threat to their own advancement.
Barack Obama and a few other Western leaders want to overthrow Gadhafi. If that happens then the rights of women in Libya might go down. Whether democracy will benefit Libyan women remains to be seen.
The precedents so far are not encouraging. Egypt and Iraq both show what will happen when an Arab Muslim country loses its strong man rule. The overthrow of Hosni Mubarak has been bad news for Egypt's Christians and women just as Saddam Hussein's ouster led to persecutions and killings of Christians and suppression of women. Large numbers of Iraqi Christians fled Iraq as a result.