Rights activist: Quota will bring cultural and social changes to the country [Archives:2008/1151/Local News]

May 1 2008

By: Wojoud Mujali
For The Yemen Times

SANA'A, April 27 ) Empowering Yemeni women to be able to run in the 2009 Parliament elections was the dominant theme in a seminar held on Sunday in the Progress and Advancement Forum in Sana'a.

The seminar, which was attended by various non-governmental organizations, forum members and local and international mass media, was ran without any representatives or heads of Yemeni political parties.

“Yemen is going through a lot of challenges, one of which is politics, and women have a significant role that can help to face such challenges. This seminar aims to help women understand their political rights and support the presidential statement about enforcing the quota to reserve 15 percent of Parliament seats for women in the coming elections,” said Yehiya Mohammed Saleh, head of the Progress and Advancement Forum.

In the last Parliament elections in 2003, only one woman won, compared to 300 men. Last year, only 38 women won in local council elections, in contrast to 4,000 men. Such feeble representation has forced women's organizations to demand that political parties carry out election law amendments in a way defining the quota percentage and compelling the political parties that apply to take part in elections to adopt it. Rauofaa Hasan, a member of the executive office in the forum, noted, “I think implementing the quota would really help and achieve a lot.”

She stressed the importance of the seminar, saying that it has joined governmental and non- governmental sides to implement a mechanism that would be able to help in the coming Parliament election and “make the elections better and easier.”

Afrah Ba-dowilan, a female judge in the juvenile court, said that enforcing the quota “will really be a significant event in the country f Yemen applies the quota, then about 45 women will be able to occupy seats in the legislature authority (Parliament), and this would definitely bring cultural and social changes to the country.”

Political analyst Mohamed Al-Mekhlafie undervalued the discussions. “How can they want to reach a specific mechanism when the political parties weren't invited?” he wondered.

“Another important thing is that there is no way to reach any kind of agreement unless the constitution is modified and changed to protect this law and mechanism they are trying to implement,” he added.