The plight of Yemeni woman is well known: low education levels, high maternal mortality rates, and little involvement in Yemen’s society and politics.
However, the revolution has started to change this. And now, the future looks increasingly bright for Yemeni women. The revolution has brought substantial change to Yemen, and women are seizing the chance to make their mark on the country’s unwritten future.
Even in the earliest days of the revolution, women could be found in Change Square. As the revolution grew, women swelled the ranks of the protests that eventually filled the streets of cities across Yemen.
Women weren’t passively watching the revolution, but driving it forward. Women could be found volunteering in various committees, fundraising, leading marches and most importantly, devoting their life to a collective vision of what Yemen could be. The integral role of women in the revolution was solidified when Tawakel Karman received the Nobel Peace Prize for her unyielding efforts throughout the revolution.
Interestingly, the brave efforts of women in the revolution not only helped it succeed, but started much more: a movement to bring women to their rightful position in Yemen’s society.
As the revolution fades and the work to build a new Yemen begins, women must turn their nascent movement into a political movement. To do this, women must be able to define their goals and create a strategy of how they will achieve them.
This week’s Women’s National Conference aims to do exactly that. With support from USAID’s Responsive Governance Project and other international and local organizations, the Women’s National Conference will bring together women across all segments of Yemen’s society to develop a political platform that will solidify the women’s movement.
The political platform will include potential legislation of a 30% quota for women in political positions and discuss ways to provide more support to women in rural areas. Through the political platform developed at conference Yemen’s women will become empowered to take part in the decisions that will ultimately create Yemen’s future.
With the conference’s anticipated success, perhaps Yemen is not far away from Prime Minister Basindwa’s grand hope that Yemen’s next prime minister will be a woman.