Equality still far off:Women in state administration [Archives:2005/825/Business & Economy]

March 17 2005

Mahyoub Al-Kamaly
A recent study showed that the proportion of Yemeni women working in government institutions reached 2.76 per cent of employees. There is only one woman in the parliament (and 300 men) and two women in the Shura Council (and 109 men).

Women's representation in the local councils does not exceed 35 of the 6000 members. There is one woman minister and not one ambassador. In the diplomatic service, there are two women holding a degree of minister plenipotentiary among 108 males, two female undersecretaries, and 11 female directors general. There are only 32 women serving within the judiciary.

The study said that there are many local, regional and international factors that limit women from attaining at positions of decision-making. Local factors are mainly because of poor education and the failure to change many of misguided attitudes towards women. Cultural and social traditions also tend to see women as dependent upon men. In addition, the political parties have, thus far been more interested in women as voters than as candidates.

The study pointed to the way that poverty impacts upon women more than men. It is estimated that 83 per cent of the people living in rural areas are affected by poverty, 87 per cent of whom suffer from food poverty. The study published by the National Committee of Women confirms the significant gaps in education levels. In the academic year of 2002-2003 62 per cent males and only 38 per cent females entered into education.

There is a further gap between education levels in rural and urban regions.

The rate of illiteracy among Yemeni rural women reaches some 78 per cent, while in the urban areas it is still around 40 per cent. The study says, however, that recent years have seen a slight drop in illiteracy among females of 15 years of age.

Regarding health services, the study confirmed the lack of equality in receiving health care. The health sector is suffering from deterioration aggravated by scarcity of resources necessary for spending on public health.

Many women are in a state of economic subservience to men and many are exposed to poverty and are being compelled to both work inside and outside the house.

The study also shows a large gap in what is guaranteed for women in the constitution and the law and what is actually practiced on the ground. The proportion of women exposed to violence is still high, some estimate that as many as 50 per cent of women experience some form of violence.