Women need to be men to occupy leadership roles [Archives:2007/1027/Opinion]

February 22 2007

By: Suad al-Qdassy
Women in Yemen still occupy second place compared to men and despite that indicators point out big improvement in women's educational levels as well as health circumstances, but these changes have not been translated into genuine participation in various walks of public life.

The UN Program on Human Development mentions that women in Yemen occupy a proportion of less than 1 percent of parliament seats and form just 15 percent of the workforce in the economic area. These figures are considered quite low compared with other countries in the world.

Yemen has endorsed international conventions related to human rights and children's rights, but it is obvious that efforts for changing the situation of women and children were not realized to the extent required for equality in the existing structures.

Factors impeding women's participation in the democratic process can be summarized into three major factors: social categorization, economic factors, and legislative and institutional factors.

The social and cultural attitudes and values are communicated through social categorization and this process is established via family and other establishments. For example, educational systems and the media play an active role similar to that of the family in the formation of social values and traditions. By discussing the social factors hindering the evolving of women and their participation, it is important to discuss the composition structure of the family.

The family status occupies a central role and forms an effective channel for communicating social, ethical, cultural and religious values. As those relations grow within the family, these relations are considered domineering and pyramidal in general- the scientists working on understanding the family structure usually point to it masculine. This patriarchal structure is there with the pyramidal authority governed by men. No doubt, the fatherly system contradicts democracy and the woman's full and equal participation as it does not allow them to take decisions in harmony with their needs and desires. And within the boundary of this structure is raised the girl who later becomes a woman to learn her roles and responsibilities as marginalized, having no qualifications and not being able to make decisions.

The family is distinguished by the fatherly system does not give opportunity to democratic thinking and works for strengthening the secondary situation of females. Since her early years the girl learns within the frame of the family that her role is confined to certain recognized limits whereas the boy discovers that his role is expanding within the frame of society. In addition it is expected from the girl to behave according to a defined style in a manner preserving honor of the family, as well as obeying her male relatives and respecting the social traditions. Despite that there are an increasing number of girls enrolled in educational institutions and are not necessarily encouraged to continue their education until they reach the function suitable to their capabilities, skills and knowledge.

Reaching the resources and controlling them leaves effective impact on the women's participation in the democratic process and in case the woman obtained an opportunity to access to resources and control them that will enable her to use the resources effectively to enhance their participation in politics and economy. In reality we find fathers, husbands and males in the family are basically the decision-makers. They chose on behalf of the women the type of job and they decide whether to accept or refuse it. They are responsible financially and in managing the human and financial resources and to run them. This actually works on reducing the women's options in the process of choosing the job that is suitable to their desire and tendencies. They also play the role to deprive women of controlling their financial resources they acquire through work or inheritance. This is to be considered one of the factors impeding the active participation of women in the political field as the women are forced to spend a longer time on the activities related to their reproductive roles and the time devoted to that is much more than their attendance of meetings and discussion of policies or to supervise on economic, cultural, social and political acts.

Here it is inevitable for a change in the general structure and the developmental frame as well as the general policies with the aim of dealing with the individuals as citizens possessing equal rights and responsibilities. The concept of citizenship requires direct and legal relationship between the individual and the state. This relationship should be the one working according to commitments and has rights capable of enhancement according to what the legal processes define through approaching the vital issues such as the status of the family in the social fabric and the extent that enables the existing formations they want to attain in the modern political system and an analysis that deeper regarding the huge challenges, as well as dangers or the resistance that are confronting attempts of women's equality and their incorporation in the public life. The analysis also aims at casting light on the way of understanding the ways and means with which different groups are recognized. This enables activists of development and citizens working with them to make those right and participation a fait accompli matter.

And hence it is for a state considered among the emerging democracies like Yemen. This program based on people, individuals and their citizens is considered an essential matter in the effecting of positive change with regard to affiliation to a group or society where the rights exist and where responsibilities are imposed at equal footing regardless of their gender. Tribal, sectarian, religious and zonal affiliation, as well other recognized divisions.

Source www.shamsannews.net