Frustrated by their current situation, women seek better representation in 2009 [Archives:2007/1074/Local News]

August 6 2007

Moneer Al-Omari
SANA'A, Aug 3 ) Despite the fact that the number of woman voters has been increasing over the years, reaching 3,900,565 compared to 5,346,805 man voters in 2006, and a separate administration of women was established within the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum in 2005, women's participation is no more than a card to be played in the hands of male candidates and political parties as proven in the numerous elections conducted in Yemen, whether presidential, parliamentary or local.

Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights launched a campaign aimed at promoting the political participation of women in preparation for the upcoming parliamentary elections due to be conducted in April 2009.

The group also launched a democratic forum involving all parties concerned with women's issues. This included official parties such as the Ministry of Human Rights, Ministry of Planning, Ministry of Insurances and Social Affairs, Ministry of Endowments, Parliament, and the Consultative Council, together with political parties, civil society organizations, media and donors. The forum aimed at looking into mechanisms that create more involvement by women in decision-making posts as well as boosting women's participation in elections.

Sisters Arab Forum chairman Amal Al-Pasha noted formal trials will be held for all those who violated the law and worked against a real involvement of women during the previous elections, including security men, sheikhs, extreme clerks, and political parties.

Al-Pasha requested the placement of two women among the members of the Elections Committee due to be reestablished soon, including women within the committee in charge of dialogue between the ruling party, General People's Congress, and the Joint Meeting Parties.

Other organizations have exerted efforts in raising the participation of women in elections and their involvement in the decision-making process.

Huda Awn from the Women's National Committee revealed the committee is working in two different directions: lobbying decision makers through pressure exercised by civil society organizations and other parties interested in women's issues, as well as raising political awareness among society members, especially women.

Awn also hinted they are thinking seriously of establishing a sector for women affiliated with the Supreme Committee for Elections and Referendum, whose main concern would be promoting women's participation and encouraging women candidates.


Al-Pasha expressed resentment over the exclusion of women from a committee recently formed, aiming to follow up the implementation of President Saleh's electoral platform. She believed such a step contradicts Saleh's announced stance regarding women's participation and further sheds doubt on the reliability of his electoral program.

Moreover, Al-Pasha criticized political parties for their failure during the elections of 2006 to include women candidates, noting any future sidelining will force women to boycott elections.

Reasons behind the low representation of women

Nabeel Al-Soufi, chief editor of News Yemen and a member of the committee recently formed by President Saleh to observe the implementation of his electoral platform, pointed out women are absent in the decision-making process even at the level of the household and family, mainly because of social and cultural reasons.

Al-Soufi further stated that women candidates do not adopt the issues of women and thus they do not get the trust of their fellow female citizens. Most of the time voting is made for tribal, sectarian, and political reasons.

He also stressed that the religious address may have something to do with this matter, as it does not support women's issues or their rights.

“Women's activation is in need for a social resolution