Workshop on Women’s Participation in Local Elections [Archives:2000/31/Reportage]

July 31 2000

Munir M. Saeed &
Sahar Hassan Naji
Over three consecutive days, July 22-24 2000, the workshop on Women’s Participation in Local Elections” was held in Aden. The workshop was organized by National Women Committee’s branches in Aden, Abyan and Lahj. It was also supported by the American Embassy. The event was attended by the American Ambassador, Barbra Bodine and the cultural attache Dr. Chris Eccel. The workshop focused on activating the role of women in electoral process as voters as well as candidates which can be achieved through educating them and raising their awareness to their rights. It also aimed at qualifying them so as to stand them on a better stead. Women have also to learn about the basics and special standards pertaining to elections either in the local councils or in parliament. Th
Yemen Times met with key figures and made the following report on the importance of women’s participation in local elections.
Dr. Chris Eccel, the cultural attache at the American Embassy said that it is a very good beginning because the women were able to discuss basic issues like the local administration for women. He also observed that it was very good for women to share experience.
Mrs. Nadiah Mohammed Ka’ed Aghbri, ex-candidate for the Parliament, said “Meeting discussions were good. There are many women interested in their candidacy. However, what they need is support. We discussed how to support women in the elections and how to enhance their participation in political as well as social life. Moreover, we made use of senior women’s experiences. I do call all parties to support women who are qualified and give them a chance to participate in the development process of the country.”Mrs. Khadija Kasem Awad said “Women’s participation in elections is not only important to Yemeni women. Rather it is a regional concern as well. However, it is important to develop women’s awareness to their political rights. At present, there are many opportunities before women, but the hard economic situation is the reason behind their absence from the political life. It is our duty as educated women to encourage and support women’s participation in elections as candidates and voters.”Mr. Ahmad Mohammed Al-Kutubi, MP, said “The workshop was beneficial to all the participants. Besides many papers were presented and discussed. Moreover, some women have already been MPs and therefore, the participants could make some benefit of these experiences. I feel that recommendations of the workshop will be of great importance to promote the women’s role and position in society. We hope that they will be successful in the ensuing elections.”Regarding woman’s experience in the parliament, he said “If we take into account woman’s experience in the parliament during 93-97, we will find that this is a positive step forward, though their number was not that big.
However, we expect that women will have strong presence in the upcoming elections, especially as there will be local elections at the level of districts and that there will be a local council in each province.
Mrs. Kublah Mohammed Saeed, NWC organizer, Abyan branch, said “Women in Abyan are playing important roles in the social, cultural, educational and health aspects. The activities organized and reported in the media bear testimony to this. We pin high hopes on what will be put into action of the recommendations of the workshop. An important issue that was discussed in the workshop was that women are to learn more and more about their rights so as to struggle for them.”Mrs. Fatima Saeed Al-Haj, NWC coordinator, Lahj branch, said “The NWC is interested in many topics related to women. Our branch holds many activities either in towns or villages. We aim to develop women’s awareness of their rights. We also organize seminars, workshops and meeting discussions to deal with many political, social or cultural issues of interest to women.
This workshop was deemed a success for we discussed one important issue which was the local administration authority and how we can enhance women’s participation in the coming elections. I hope that the recommendations will come up with some mechanisms through which women can reach the stage of decision-making.”
Regarding the situation of women in Lahj, she said “Lahj is in need of a strong support from the local authorities. Women should be given opportunities to attain the position of decision-making. Women should make their presence felt in important positions so as to help move the development process of the country.”The workshop had come out with a number of decisions and recommendations including the NWC’s coordination with parties at all stages to encourage women in the upcoming electoral process. The recommendations also called on all NGOs and parties to activate the role of women in the society and to continue exerting efforts to give them a chance to participate in the elections as voters as well as candidates.