The World Bank, Gender and Yemen Society [Archives:2001/31/Business & Economy]

July 30 2001

Abdull- Rahman Ba- Fadhel
Under the sponsorship of Planning Minister Ahmed Mohammed Sofan and in collaboration with the Women ‘s National Committee and the World Bank, a workshop on Gender and Strategies for Eliminating Poverty was organized on the 17th of July 2001. We do not know what is the relationship between eliminating poverty and gender, which was officially prohibited by parliament, and its activities which have been run by Dr. Ra’awfah Hassan were sealed off at Sana’a university. One wonders that all enthusiasm is coming from the Women’s National Committee who seems not to fully comprehend the dimensions of gender which worsens the relationship between the male and female instead of finding love and unity of the family to build strong societies. We ought to know that all international treaties of Cairo, Beijing, Istanbul, Rome, Amsterdam and New York are trying to bring new relationships of the families such as man to man and woman to woman marriage. Holland the first donor and supporter for the Yemeni women is the first country that have issued legislative resolutions that permit the man to man and woman to woman marriage according to resolutions of the European Union. It has warned the Muslims of interfering in the internal affairs of Holland with their condemnation of these legislative resolutions.
In the Sana’a conference as organized by Dr. Ra’awfah Hassan, the Moroccan philosopher suggested a project for the family types, he requested the disregarding of the Qura’an, The Sunna (of the prophet), the consensus (of Moslem legal scholars on a legal question) and juristic reasoning (deduction) i.e to put Islam in the basket.
Nevertheless we have attended the workshop where a specialist from the Planning Ministry began to lecture us describing the 25 year plan of the government. Like ordinary people the official is talking abut the high inflation of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy, water shortage and low incomes rather than telling us about the solutions suggested by the new governmental strategy. Right after speech of the official we could not utter a word for the right to speak was only given to the theorist puppeteers who make the deceitful propaganda of the government. This weak government could not achieve a one-year plan to run its public budget and programs of investment, let alone preparing a 5-year or 25-year plan. Mr. Francois has never spoken but about the gender and made it the main subject of the workshop (Topics of gender are numerous and should be enriched with discussions and view points) Francois believes. Deputy Chairwoman of the National Women Committee Ms. Horiyah Mashhoor made a little bit logic speech but alas her words are all related to the gender. Why do they mix the gender with the poverty alleviation, is it ignorance of the gender (the social types) or the World Bank with a deliberate trying to seduce the Yemen to lead them towards the dark ends.
We have been shocked then by one of the speakers who told us of the must of being divided into five small groups for discussions. I raised my hand and asked for my right to speak and exactly said: “You have already displayed the visions of the government concerning the coming 25-year plan, we as representatives of the opposition blocs have our own different view points and should demand our right to speak otherwise we shall withdraw” But that gentle man insisted on the importance of dividing the participants into small groups of discussion for one hour and a half or at least one hour then we might be given the right to speak so I decided to withdraw and I did not forget of course to thank Yemen’s minister of planning and development Ahmed Sofan who invited me to come and stressed on the importance of my attendance to enrich the workshop with discussions and viewpoints. Unfortunately Sofan himself did not attend the workshop because he was attending a meeting of the cabinet at the other side of the planing ministry.
Let us evaluate the so-called strategy as being displayed by that specialist of the planning ministry:
I – Since the specialist confirmed the raise of unemployment, poverty, illiteracy and water shortage why then his financial reforming program was made.
II – The specialist believes that the right solution of these problems is health and good education. I wonder what are the governmental appropriations for the health and educational sectors as represented by the coming 25-year plan. It is known in prior that education in Yemen is moving backwards, health is declining and things are getting worse.
III – According to the specialist the reforming programs should focus on women education and health. Although we agree with this vision we do inquire what are the outcomes of university education, are there job opportunities for the male and female graduates? The official of the World Bank Mr. Francois, the preacher of the gender, should know very well that the Yemeni woman enjoys more rights and self independence than what the gender could offer the woman in those countries where the female are not paid equally like male workers, her identity and title are robbed as soon as she gets married to carry her husbands title instead of hers, her documents should be changed if married another man and the like. She does not have the right to have her own possessions to sell and purchase while her name is linked with her husband’s. Mr. Francois should know that in Taiz university some of the faculties graduate 70 % of the female students, factories of fisheries employ 60 % female workers. Women in the rural regions are working more than men. Does the amount of work make a sense or is the reward and value of the work. Work for the Yemeni woman is a choice because her financial rights are reserved by the constitution and she has the right to keep her money as a private property on the contrary women in the countries of the gender should share the men their money she is also forced to work.
IV- population inflation is one of the topics discussed by the strategy. The nations culture should be the main reference of the discussions but not the gender imposed upon us by the World Bank and other suspicious organizations which make a few dollars their means to convince those people in need and force them to buy whatever policies they want to try. Family planning is not refused but assured in our constitution which determines a couple of years for babies breast- feeding which naturally organizing pregnancy. Our religion permits the family planning and the usage of contraceptive pills but under three conditions:
1-Not for good.
2- Not to escape poverty and famine as claimed by the World Bank
3- To gain agreement of both parties the wife and husband.
There is no objection to early marriage. The usage of contraceptive pills but not the late marriage and the distribution of these pills as claimed by the World Bank which aims at deforming the society, breaking the unity of the family and deepening the principles of the gender. Our query to the World Bank regarding the gender policies is how they related to the rights of the children and how they are going to be delivered.
V- Specialist of the planning ministry confirmed that the cultivated lands in our country occupy 5% of the whole lands. He recommends the stop of agriculture activities and claims to have a developing strategy, what corruption is then, a nation without cultivation and industry deserve not but to be buried under earth. The World Bank, its institutions and the preachers of the gender are planning evil for our country to keep as a market for their goods. They want to enslave us being the only source of our food the only thing which one can not get rid of. What if a III world war erupted “God forbids” how can we manage to get our food which is coming from outside, this might cause a famine in the country? 
VI- The strategy did state alternations for the current sources of water consumption and irrigation as if the solution owned by foreigners only.
VII- The strategy encouraged Qat cultivation and marketing and claimed it plays a major role in redistributing incomes between the rural and urban regions. What is worse is that the World Bank presented a loan to the government to demolish The Wheat Seeds Multiplying Institution in Sayoon which produces 60 tons of wheat annually and sells the whole quantity to farmers at the rate of 60 % of the total cost with support of the Fisheries & Agriculture Fund. The World Bank loan agreement indicated the necessity of demolishing this institute to be replaced by onion agriculture to be exported as they believe. What are the real goals of the world bank specially in case we come to know that the government has intentions to raise the price of the diesel which really endangers cultivation in the country while such activities are governmentally supported in Europe and the United States of America.
VIII- Specialist of the planning ministry talked about the efficiency of the state administrative body and this the most important subject. Ever since I have joined the parliament and during my work at the cabinet I have been always demanding reforms of the state administrative body to go along with the financial reforms, for each are two faces of the same coin. To what extent that damned program of the World Bank made success. The individuals’ incomes are declining, unemployment and poverty are in race. The rates of hard currency are getting higher and living standards from bad to worse, had this been success, what failure was? The notable reason behind this poverty in a country that is rich with its natural resources is no more than that corruption dominating the public sectors. Alshomoo (The Candles) newspaper could tell you about corruption in the governmental sectors, it always publishes official documents to support its articles about these people who are not but enemy officials. The 25-year plan of the government means continuous corruption for another 25 years. The other reason of this wide spread of corruption is the unreasonable distribution of public incomes that most of it always confiscated by a few people.
IX- The specialist claimed that population growth in Yemen marks the rate of 5.5% a humble ratio no doubt. But how the comprehensive development could be achieved while the people’s incomes are declining and rates of the hard currency flies above the wind.
— The specialist displayed the conditions made the World Bank as embodied in releasing economic, reducing monopoly and non intervention of the government. These conditions should soften the state sovereignty and destroy its infrastructure. What if the government is forbidden to support agriculture and industry and only forced to let the doors open widely for foreign corporation and make its citizens faithful customers to the foreign goods.
XI- How strange of the specialist when talking about the dangers of desertification without referring to policies which have been adopted to face such a problem.
XII- The silly strategy displayed by the specialist of the planning ministry indicated the importance of utilizing the Islamic legislation which calls for the rights of women but how should this go in harmony with the gender.
XIII- The strategy is talking about the 700.000 cases of poor families to be given allowances by the Social Security Net. But goodness the specialist believes that this point is to be reviewed and the allowances distribution should be conducted with utter transparency. For a long time we have been stressing the importance of registering the poor families in all the Governorates in a process which guarantees justice and equality of treatment. The number of poor families could exceed that humble figure twice, let alone the increment predicted to occur among the poor societies. Withdrawing the governmental support of the diesel and increasing the taxes should increase the heavy burdens of the citizens. Politics and partisanship should not be the standards of selecting the poor families and such humanitarian principles should not be deformed by politics.
Now let us respond to visions of Ms. Horiyah Mashhoor which she voiced proudly about the gender:
First: The Women labor at home should be reconsidered. Is it inferior to the men labor outside? Is it of no value to the national incomes as the western constitutions believe. Does the women labor of no weight. Pregnancy, the babies breast-feeding and conducting the other house affairs?
Second: Does Ms. Horiyah know that female workers in Western nations receive lesser salaries than the male even though they enjoy the same qualifications while women in Yemen are receiving the same salaries of men.
Third:I want to remind her that our constitution is binding the government to pay allowances for each family that missed its breadwinner. So the woman in our country is not forced to get out and work to support her family or to win bread for her children. The ministry of Social Affairs, the concerned authority in the government should pay more consideration to the families supported by women to make them sufficient. Labor of the Yemeni women is a choice not obligatory.
Fourth: Ms. Horiyah believes that the scale of women employment is modest in comparison to men. These ideas are only promoted by the Gender which do not relate to the concepts of the family in our society. We are sure that by time the women education should raise the scale of the women employment who is going to find her opportunity in all fields.
At the end of the workshop the participants were divided into five groups formulated as following:
Health and Population, Family Planning, maternity and childhood. We hope that the concepts of birth control and abortion should not spread as fire in the hay. Contraceptive pills should not also be distributed as free gifts as believed the World Bank and other international organizations.
Human Resources development “training and education. How to be conducted while education is still declining.
Natural and rural for the hope to be counted and to be spent on the right place.
The regime and administrative policies, the reforms of the civic services and decentralization. For the hope that particular techniques should be provided to activate the local councils regime. Authority of these councils should be extended specially the political and financial rights. No one knows what was decided on this concern, what recommendations have been made specially regarding the gender .
Finally I want to say that some Yemeni expatriates who live in the Gulf expressed frankly their hope that the government is enjoying a real atmosphere of investment. This could be achieved throughout the right application of the law, judicial reforms, internal security, and fighting financial and administrative corruption. Then the expatriates who are businessmen will return with their capitals to have their own enterprises and no longer we will live under the mercy of the World Bank, neither accept its gender and low advertisement nor its loans with oppressive conditions. The World Bank and its polices are described by Malaysian Prime minister Mahateer Muhammed as the worst kind of imperialism.