Ignoring the younger female generation is a big mistake [Archives:2008/1126/Viewpoint]

February 4 2008

Women's movement in Yemen has witnessed several changes throughout the years. The movement's history differs between South and North Yemen and more recently in the united Yemen. This difference is due to several factors such as the British occupation and the socialist regime in South Yemen. Yemeni women in the south have gone through a much wealthier experience than women in the north. The generations of Yemeni women raised in the southern parts quarter a century ago have had the opportunity to enjoy a relatively good education and role in the society even more substantial to the role Yemeni women have today. That was the time when a real women's movement was formed and one that was much more affective in participating in the public sphere. Although at that time political freedom as such was non existent, yet women's ability to participate and produce made them the pioneer women we see today. Yemeni women in the north did not have an equal chance, yet there had been a few names of women who struggled and carved the first few miles against all odds. These women, both southern and northern, are the ones in the limelight today representing women's movement.

However, there is a critical mistake that has taken place historically in women's movement in Yemen. There had been no preparation for a second and third line generation, the ones who will carry the movement forward. This is not a problem limited to the movement only, it is a common mistake in the political and intellectual arenas of this country. The people who are in the front line today, have been the same people for the past twenty years almost. And when they go, there will be a vacuum, or worse a space filled with under experienced youth. It is the narrow view of the country's strategy makers, only I had hopped that Yemeni pioneer women knew better.

In many of international and national conferences are to find the list of participants repeated again and again. Having the same names indirectly leads to having the same agenda and consequently the same speeches. I am not undermining the experience of the Yemeni women leaders, it's just that they have forgotten to pass this experience to the younger generations so that progress is created. There has not been much space given to younger generations, and development opportunities had not been distributed fairly.