YSP and women’s rights [Archives:2005/869/Viewpoint]

August 18 2005

Undoubtedly, the recent assembly of the fifth YSP conference was a success. Not only did it gain huge popularity and was attended by around five thousand representatives from around the republic, but also it displayed a clear commitment to human rights and women's issues, especially through the concluding declaration of the conference and the number of critical processes, mainly the change in the political party's leadership. Changing the party's leadership is crucial for the renovation of the party's spirit and evidence to the democratic trend of transferring leadership in political parties, especially that it has been so long since such a process has taken place and the selection of the old figures of the party in the central committee without giving much space to new generations.

What is worth appreciating also is the party's commitment to women's quota through dedicating 30% of the prominent seats at the party for women. This was a response to a national project adopted by women activists throughout the country for empowering women. This step was a plus point for the political party that gave it more credit than any other political parties, including the ruling one. Especially that it became obvious that the GPC's slogans and preaching about women and women's right appeared to be all bark and no bite, considering it has done almost nothing comparable to what the YSP has done in its fifth conference.

When reviewing the history of the Socialist party one notices the leading steps the party has taken in terms of empowering women. It is not a new trend for this historical political party to dedicate seats for women who enjoyed much more space, freedoms in the past in South Yemen then as their percentage in the People's Council reached 11%, and there was a woman in the presidential position of the council. Women accounted to more than 18% of the local councils and they assumed many decision- making positions without being hindered with social and cultural barriers that prevented them from working in the judicial system for example or in the state as they have taken many leading positions up to vice minister. This was not confined to civil positions. In fact women were enrolled in the military and diplomatic careers and the family in whole enjoyed many privileges, not available at present and in 1984, the CEDAW convention was ratified an issue that was made questionable after the unity and turned that agreement to merely a piece of paper saved in a drawer here or there.

Today the eyes are hanging on what this political party might do in the coming elections of 2006. This is a political party that always brought revolutionary processes throughout its history; so will it be able to do it again?