Women in electionsPower cannot be ignored [Archives:2003/633/Reportage]

April 27 2003

Yasser Mohammed Al-Mayyasi
With the approaching date for each parliamentary elections, all parties' programs give much more attention to singling our a spacious space for the woman as a figure that cannot be ignored. However, the attention is just for her vote, as most parties do not give the woman any seat to nominate for any elections. So the woman participation recedes day by day.
In every election we remarkably see the extensive fall-off of woman participation in political life. This drop in the woman political participation in the political life is at both local and national levels. It becomes international phenomenon that differs from one country to another and from one area to another according to the level of economic, social and political development.
International statistics and studies draw dishonorable picture about woman participation in life at all levels.
Yemeni woman is lucky for her status in the legislation, laws and parties platforms, however, she is greatly far way from practicing political life. That can be attributed to many reasons. For example the reality that is resulted of inherited practices and so-called traditions and customs that did isolate her from participation in the society affairs and was not allowed to get educated and work till the outbreak of the evolution in 1962 that freed woman and man altogether.
In spite of the enormous changes that Yemeni woman has witnessed in all different fields, it is still limited. Dr. Khadeeja al-Haismi, political sciences professor and the vice-chairman of Women Studies Center, confirmed that in a study aimed at knowing the real political partnership for Yemeni woman and her efficient participation in this field as well as knowing the limited factors for this participation socially. Moreover, it is putting mechanisms for supporting woman politically.
There are many reasons and obstacles to block woman's participation in the political and public life and being a decision-maker. The social situations and the degrading outlook to the woman ability affected her participation in the elections held after unification. Only two women won in 1993 and 1997 elections nevertheless the 1997 elections were distinguished by Yemeni woman effective participation in which the registered females were 38% against 16% in 1993.
In spite of the political address of parties and different social authorities was supportive and blessing the woman participation, parties competed to magnetize and enhance woman participation aiming at benefiting just from them as votes in favor of men whose parties proffered to nominate, fearing of woman failure and thus losing precious opportunity besides distrusting women ability to practice in the political job. There are who believe that women presence in the parties platforms does not express the real faith in woman participation as much as it reflects the desire to gain women votes in elections.
However, the most important impediment of woman political participation decrease is the electoral system through which elections are run and the system of single constituency that lessens women's chance even if they were high-qualified as men usually have drastic influence.
Extensive participation of registered women to practice their rights does not exceed 36,8%, represents an open letter to all political parties and organizations that democracy has made woman as strong powerful that cannot be ignored and any party or organization overlooks her would be sentencing itself to failure.
Therefore the woman has to work to change her situation from merely figures that are being exploited, bought and sold, into a real power that can negotiate and discuss the parties about what she can do and serve woman sector.