Poor women innovate a marketing profession,The hookah impresses women and incenses sellers at festivities halls [Archives:2004/728/Business & Economy]

April 12 2004

Elements affecting the social structure component of a proportion of poor families, according to their category, pushed numerous women in the capital and major cities in Yemen to search for easier job opportunities to increase their income. But some women descending from not poor families do not show interest in economic and social activity and constitute a disguised unemployment especially among those who have finished their secondary school and university education who are noticeably seen present at festivities hall and birth or mourning occasions.
Qualitative gaps between the reality of women and men reveal that poor families headed by women are estimated at 60.3% of the total non-poor families. And this imbalance pushes poor women to be perseverant and serious for improvement of their living conditions to the extent of innovating ways for marketing their sales of handicrafts or choosing commodities or light food stuffs bringing forth financial returns. In this scene there appear some paradoxes inside festivities hall in the capital Sana'a where women from well-to-do or poor families gather. Women from well-to-do families bring with them qat and hookahs, known in Yemen by “Mada'a” to participate in celebrating the bride and perform kinds of dances expressing the joy to rhythm of local traditional tunes, in a phenomenon that has become common and a social habit expressing stability of their family situations.
Poor women would rather convert their presence and attendance in festivities halls to places for marketing their handicraft products and selling various kinds of incenses and perfumes, cake, and women clothes. Mariam, nicknamed Um Abdullah, specialized in marketing products at festivities halls, says rich families are keen to buy handicrafts made by women in weddings and this method of trading gives profitable results without having the need to have shops and showrooms to display their goods. She says the halls are movable trade shops during hours when rich women are chewing qat and smoking hookahs. The same can be said about celebrating new births or offering condolences, which are occasions causing a rise in proportion of selling more than traditional trade shops.
Fatma, specialized in selling Aden incenses says it has become familiar that the hookahs impress women on occasions of joys, mourning and new births and this situation provides poor women with opportunities for marketing and selling the best types of incenses among the women attending those occasions.
Divorced, widows and mulatto women are among most of poor women who practice the marketing profession at various social occasions, in addition to those who have discarded education due to their family and living circumstances. Field surveys reveal that a number of girls used to enroll in schools usually discard educations after the fourth grade of primary school especially in countryside and coastal areas for reasons related to cultural, economic and social habits and this state urged women to take part in productive activities.
Sameera Ghaleb Taha, an unemployed university graduate consider the phenomena of marketing at social occasions as confirming weakness of the woman participation and contribution to the national economy and that early marriages limit participation of Yemeni women in the labour market after reproduction age and as a result of increased burdens of family care in cases of divorce or death of the husband. Here the woman head of the family finds herself forced to practice the profession of marketing products at weddings and other occasions.
It is to be remarked that such woman activities are temporary and for providing needs of the poor families and are not effective in improving the quality of family income in the long-run. Nevertheless, contribution of female university graduates to the economic activity remains hostage of obtaining job opportunities at professions demanding specialized skills.
It remains to point out in this regard that the Yemeni woman in general is still struggling for improving her position at the labour market under an official interest in increasing the educated woman's economic and productive activity. As for the poor and illiterate women, they have created such job opportunities ensuring for them the development of their income in the process of facing the conditions of poverty that are increasing in the Yemeni society despite of all efforts exerted to fighting them.