Youth and social gender (1) [Archives:2005/867/Culture]

August 11 2005

By Houria Mshhoor
For the Yemen Times

The social gender has become an approach of development, which is reflected in the general national policy, since the end of the nineties. It also appeared in different rates in the national population policies, and the poverty reduction strategy, in different names. It sometimes comes under the constituent of woman, justice, and equality. The same social concept of the Arabic translation of gender is rarely and narrowly used.

Most of the strategies and polices had tackled this matter, the strategy, of woman development, did this in a careful way. The principals of this strategy depended on the Sahariah law, the constitution, the national laws and the Yemeni commitments with the international charters. This depended on the gender as a way to measure the gaps between men and women in different aspects of gender issues. It used these analyses to fill the gap between men and women in education, health work and the chances of decision making posts. Half of the women are youths, as it is the case with most of the Arabic community where youth are 50% of the population. The national policy of population has taken care of this important sector, because it represents the present and future of this country.

The concentration here will be on the role of two important establishments of youth upbringing education, in the gender issue, through these axils.

1-Family and youth

2-Youthand education

3- National policies and youth

4- The role of media in youth issues

Family and Youth:

Four thousand years ago an Egyptian priest (2000) BC said, “Our world is in a critical era. The youth don't listen to their elders; this must be the end of the world.”

A thousand years after that a scripture of a Babylon relics was also found. It was for a father who was also complaining. He said 'These youths are delinquent to the core. The youths of today are lazy and corrupted. They are unlike those of the older days. They are incapable of keeping our culture.”

Pluto, in the fifth century BC said, about the relation between the father and his son, “The fathers fears their sons, and the sons consider themselves equal to their fathers and don't have respect for their parents, all they want is to be free. The students are a trial to their teachers. They shower them with insults. The youth want to take the elders seats right away. The elders agree to this, because they don't want to appear as tyrants. Above all the youth demand to go beyond the limits of generations, in the name of liberty and equality.”

All these contexts assert that the struggle between the generations goes back to the past. Similar relations still exist in our modern community.

Some of these relations could be noted in the Yemeni community, but it is not general, especially in the rural community, which is based on total respect for the elders (the father and grandfather). Though the older ladies in the rural family receive respect, they have a limited part in decision making, because of the paternal nature of the system which concentrates the authority in the male hands. Because of the strength of the tribal system and their impact, this authority could be transferred to the uncle, the cousin or even the chief of the tribe, who is quite influential over all.

The prevailing culture fosters the male monopolization of authority. It makes them enjoy absolute control even in the most private affairs of the females. The female's marriages are arranged without the least consideration to their views. The father, the brother, (he could even be the youngest brother) can stop his sister from going to school, without giving the least justification.

This authority is in the hand of the father in the rural community. It will appear in a clear way if the girl is young or illiterate.

This influence decreases in urban areas, where the untraditional pattern prevails. The education becomes wide spread in such communities and the awareness of woman rights enable her to go to university. Men are also more aware of women rights. In spite of the relative improvement in the woman's position due to her acquisition of means of independence, but things remain to be not so easy for her. The youth often become victims to double standards because of their bringing up and the cultural traditions. He could be very liberal in his treatment with women at work, but this completely changes at home with (his wife, daughter, mother or a sister)

A study that was conducted by the center of training and population studies, on the opinions and trends of the students of Ibb University, on the gender issues, revealed varied reactions.256 males and 78 females were asked. 89.7% of the girls preferred that the education is to continue up to university. As for the males only 42.6%

Prefer the continuation of girl's education to the basic level only.

The bringing up of males plays a major role in the division of work opportunities. It consolidates the traditional roles for each of the genders. The woman's work is confined to the house with birth and its ancillaries as their main job. Even from the point of view of many women, it is not desirable for the men to do these jobs. The spread of education, made the woman join in getting out to work, to improve the family's income. This added to their burdens. The husbands don't help in sharing the responsibilities of the house and kids, as these are socially classified as women's roles. It is a pity that the woman's work is not valued. Her work starts in the early morning and goes on to late at night. She doesn't get anything in return, not even a compliment (women who get a return for their work don't exceed 13% according to a working force survey.)

Woman's esteem in the family and the community at large is low, in the Yemeni tradition and culture. The famous slogans are (she is a woman, god shields you), (It is a real loss to consult or take the advice of a woman). They are considered to be weak minded. Studies show that the failure of women to be in decision making positions help to consolidate this matter. Contrary to that, women who have chances for education and access to economical resources improve their situation, in the house and in the community.

Education and training improve woman chances of decision making. The studies that were conducted I in Ibb University showed that there are trends to accept participation in family decision making such, as the marriages, the continuation of girl's education and management of properties. The majority refused the social participation of women in political life, such as the membership in political parties, representation in parliaments and local governance. Their percentage was 79.4%. Most of them owed this to religious reasons. It is a shallow interpretation for Shariah.

The youth stances are eclectic and opportunistic in this respect. They coincide with the prevailing traditional culture. 76.7% were in favor of the participation of woman in general elections. The percentage of those who agree on her right as a nominee to run the elections was 32.6%. They justify this by the inappropriate nature of politics for women. They add that women are sentimental, and can't face the men. Casting ballots from a political point of view is participation, but the men want only to use women's votes to strengthen their social positions. The matter has nothing to do with religion and religion is mostly used to serve secular purposes.

Youth and the school

The school's role varies from one environment to another. The school plays a big role of knowledge enlightenment in the country. It could share this role with the mosque. The mosque used to monopolize this role in the past decades. The spread of schools in remote areas became a source for knowledge that is not restricted to religious subjects. It added other life, sciences and mathematical knowledge.

The sources of knowledge became numerous in cities. Students may boast of their knowledge of computer, and that they master more than a language, before their teachers. The availability of news papers and magazines, in addition to satellite channels, enables the elite student to embarrass their teachers, with their dense knowledge. Other establishments are part of the mechanism of bringing up the youth. Of these are the political parties and the religious establishments; not with their traditional concepts, but with new ones that mix politics with religion. They exploit religion for politics and special fancies.