Role of Yemeni Women in Development [Archives:2001/41/Reportage]

October 8 2001

Dua’a Al-Kaderi
Women represent half of the population. The female work force in Yemen has reached 20.18 percent, distributed in all different sectors. There are 50 percent in the agricultural sector, particularly in rural areas, 60 percent are working as miners, 16 percent are working in the manufacturing industry, nine percent in administration and services, four percent in electricity and water, and two percent in insurance and properties. The government has done a lot to improve the status of woman through participation in economic activities and the establishment of intensive media campaigns to show the public the the important role of women in social and economic development. Women must participate side-by-side with men in all aspects of life, by providing educational opportunities and care centers for women and implementing the Labor Law which grants the rights of women. The government depends on the mechanisms of economic facets, such as the establishment of the Agricultural and Fish Production Fund. The number of families making use of this fund reached 2500 in 1998. In addition, the Skill Development Fund (SDF), and Small Enterprises Promotion Unit (SEPU) were established to support training enterprises for poor families, in which women can play a leading role in the development process.

Other Aspects
Social care is an important aspect in the developmental process in which women can successfully perform their role in nurturing a new generation. This approach concentrates mainly on the positive role of women and meets the essential requirements needed for women.
Another aspect is eradicating poverty by allowing women to work outside the home and by providing competitive job opportunities. This approach concentrates on improving the pitiful condition of some distressed families. The third approach is equality between men and women. This approach calls for integrating men and women in the developmental process. Women should be competent to perform her their successfully and should be encouraged to participate effectively in society, in accordance with their role as women in this society. In this respect, the government must provide useful projects in which women can take part, such as health services and educational centers. This, of course, encourages woman to join in voluntary work.
We met up with female figures and conducted the following interview concerning on the role of Yemeni women.
Noor Mohammed Abbad, the Chairwoman of the Woman Integration Association in Development, said that women will be considered an active partner to man by educating girls and by putting an end to early marriage among both girls and boys. The sharp increase in the number of people under the poverty line is a major problem to all. Statistics and numbers will greatly help us to know the problems and find the right solutions. Women in villages suffered from more than women in the cities. Women take the responsibility of the housework, such as cleaning, washing, farming and other things. What aggravates the situation is the deteriorating conditions in Yemen, beginning with the local war in 1994 and the government of the administrative and financial reform programs. The problem is that women are not allowed to participate with men in decision-making; this is a big problem for women in Yemen. Women in Yemen are not in high esteem, because they are treated as women.
Fatema Mashhoor, the Chairwoman of Department in the Labor Ministry and Social Insurance, expressed her opinion, saying that interests and programs taking care of women have been the main concern of the people and one of the general policies of population. These policies were achieved after a long struggle and great effort beginning in the 1990s and continuing until the present day. After the struggle, the policies and the programs were formed with the goal of facilitating this strategy. In 2001, efforts have been directed to focusing attention on women’s issues and the challenges faced by women, giving priority to women’s policies and programs. This cannot be achieved unless these things happen:
* Development and women are complementary to each other. It represents women’s integration in the developmental process in all aspects of life.
* Social diversity is a new method that has been recently adopted by population policies. Its results have been shown clearly, and it has greatly affected the Five Year Plan. It concentrates on the leading role played by women.
Fatima Hamza, the Secretary General of Yemen’s Women’s Union said that the social and historical conditions are a great obstacle to Yemeni women. The prevailing opinion is that backwardness dominates the mentalities of the Yemeni people. Women adhere to the traditions of the society and the community in which they live. Recently, women have played an active role in the development process. The social awareness among people to allow women to associate with men is an important aspect.