One for all, and all for Yemen [Archives:2003/636/Opinion]

May 12 2003

By Hooria Mashoor
Chief Editor
Al-Yamanya Newspaper &
Deputy Chair-Person
Women's National Committee

It was a depressing feeling which we felt when we saw our helplessness in supporting the female candidates in the Parliamentary elections last month. Although we represent the Women's National Committee, which is a government organization, we felt powerless against the malicious direct and indirect attacks women who were interested in the parliament were facing.
Yet it was ironic how women were massively encouraged to vote, where 48% of voters were females. It seemed that it was good for them to vote but to want to take part in the decision-making positions, that was unheard of. According to the Supreme Committee of elections in more than 40 election centers the number of women exceeded that of men! True there are claims that this would not have happened if not for the aggressive campaigning and sometimes blackmailing that made women feel its their duty to vote for their tribal man or group, and that their voice is merely a follower to that of a husband's or father tc. But still it was an indicator that women can and will participate. It wasn't right the way they were pushed into it without sufficient education and awareness. They should have been given enough information and freedom to choose the right candidate whom is seen as beneficial for the area and the country as a whole regardless of his/her orientation and affiliations.
We were hoping that the number of candidates would be relative to the number of participants but were utterly disappointed. There were only 15 candidates and out of whom many were subjected to family or even political pressure to back off and leave the scene. A few brave-hearted struggled and resisted and we at the WNC tried to support them as much as we could. We tried to push them further and open doors for them. But we were faced by our helplessness, especially when you are talking to a man-dominating community. What was more painful is that the massive numbers of female participants could have made a difference. If women had merely realized that they form a strong weapon they would not have allowed themselves to be used in such a manner.
This is a call for all Yemeni women: Don't allow your voice to be manipulated by others. This is a call especially to the leading women in our society and our pioneers: Get together and unite in order to turn the tables. Change the scene and educate other women about their rights and abilities. We should get together in order to support women to assume decision-making positions. If we wanted a real democracy we should work for it. The previous Parliament elections should be a lesson, which we have to learn from. We should start now if we want to reach better results in the coming elections in 2009, something to make us proud of and enhance the status of women in our country.
This is an invitation from the heart to all those who care to make our country a better place for all, men, women and children. Let's get together and make it one for all and all for Yemen!