Breaking Barriers: Yemeni Perspectives on Workplace Equity
Yemeni Women's Voices Platform

On March 20, 2023, the Yemeni Women's Voices platform held a successful event, bringing together experts and participants to address the challenges faced by Yemeni women in various fields of work and explore strategies to overcome them. The event concluded with valuable advice from the experts, which was shared with young Yemeni girls and women aspiring to enter the Yemeni job market. This event was facilitated by rights activist Monia Thabet. 

The Experts

Dr Lubna Abdulaziz

She holds a doctorate in political and economic sciences from the College of Economics, Aden University, and is a financial expert. She has been a lecturer in government and private colleges for ten years. She has taught several subjects in which she has deep expertise, such as investment finance, international business management, knowledge economy, and others.

Dr Arwa Al-Jabri

She formerly headed the Health Education and Awareness Department at the Public Health and Population Office in Taiz Governorate and now manages the National Organization for Health Development. She has experience in field activities and awareness in public health and enhancing community awareness. Dr Al-Jabri has focused her 15-year professional career on working in health education and awareness, communication for development, social and behavioural change, malnutrition, governance and conflict resolution, and gender-based violence.

Ibtihal Al-Kumani

She is a lawyer and leading human rights activist in the Dhamar governorate, distinguished by her strong empathy with women's and children's issues. Ibtihal holds the position of Legal Affairs Director at the Human Rights Office and Legal Officer at the Sustainable Development Foundation in the Dhamar Governorate.

Events Highlights

In addressing the primary obstacles that prevent women from achieving gender equality, several speakers shed light on the multitude of challenges that Yemeni women encounter. These discussions underscored the prevalent perception of women as less competent, leading to discrimination, particularly in the workplace, where male dominance and tribal thinking obstruct their progress. Societal prejudices and ongoing conflicts in Yemen often sideline women from significant decisions and hinder their access to key positions. The conversation emphasized the necessity of raising awareness, inspiring and creating more opportunities for women and educating society about women's vital role as active and indispensable partners to men in all walks of life. The path to gender equality across various sectors involves balancing work and personal responsibilities, addressing ignorance, poverty, and discrimination, and adjusting societal expectations, ultimately fostering a resilient and capable society.

When considering practical measures to mitigate the challenges Yemeni women face, the conversation focused on implementing robust governance systems, abiding by justice and equality principles, and presenting women with fair opportunities based on competence. Education is crucial in shifting societal and decision-makers' perspectives on women's capabilities. Altering media representations and stereotypes and celebrating women's achievements can further modify societal views. Adapting the social structure, investing in women's capacity building, critically examining legal statutes such as retirement age that may contribute to disparities, and addressing the marginalization in implementing United Nations resolutions, particularly during wartime, are all necessary steps. Forming women's alliances to champion their interests independently of male influence represents a practical solution to address gender-related challenges effectively.

"The path to gender equality
involves balancing work
and personal responsibilities."

The conversation then transitioned to various speakers sharing their personal experiences and initiatives aimed at enhancing gender equality in Yemen. Dr Arwa Al-Jabri and Dr Lubna Abdulaziz underscored the significance of women finding role models and displaying their skills to contribute to broader society. These initiatives involved training paramedics and community volunteers and inspiring women to innovate. Meanwhile, Ibtihal Al-Kumani pointed out the need for determination and resilience in the face of societal resistance when pursuing unconventional roles in academia and law. The audience discussed women's groups that emerged during the war, working collectively to support other women and spearheading diverse initiatives for change. Despite past misinterpretations of women's struggles, contemporary women's movements are effecting a positive societal impact by entering roles once primarily reserved for men.

"Women's movements are
effecting a positive societal

Various strategies to ensure the sustainability of practical steps towards gender equality were then proposed. Dr Arwa Al-Jabri, Dr Lubna Abdelaziz, and Ibtihal Al-Kumani underscored the need for improved education for women and the broader society. They emphasized the importance of raising awareness about gender equality principles, prioritizing skills and experience, and encouraging equal opportunities in the workplace. They suggested conducting workshops and awareness campaigns, providing educational support, and focusing on skill development in personal and professional realms. To make gender equality efforts comprehensive, targeting decision-makers and involving both genders in these initiatives is critical. Activating the roles of organizations and civil society and prioritizing women's empowerment through various projects and activities are pivotal in achieving sustainable change.

"It is important to raise
awareness about gender
equality principles."

The audience subsequently discussed the potential hurdles and solutions in implementing practical steps towards gender equality. Key issues include a lack of awareness of women's rights, cultural perceptions, non-enforcement of existing laws, the ongoing conflict in Yemen, and the overall deteriorating economic situation. Suggested solutions comprise enhancing awareness, refining laws and regulations, boosting women's political and economic participation, focusing on rural women and those with disabilities, combating all forms of violence against women, bolstering education, and providing improved support in areas such as healthcare, vocational training, and job opportunities. In addition, adhering strictly to the laws without tolerating women's rights violations and underscoring the suffering experienced by women during wartime highlight the importance of collective effort in ensuring sustainable steps towards gender equality.

Individuals, organizations, and society as a whole play a vital role in promoting and supporting gender equality across professional fields, and men are considered allies in this endeavour. Collaboration between genders and changing societal attitudes are vital. Strategies proposed include raising awareness across all demographics, using media to disseminate messages of justice and equality, ensuring the credibility of organizations working for gender equality, and addressing both genders when discussing women's rights. Mothers educating their children about women's rights, advocating balanced discourse, and establishing international mechanisms to counteract the influence of religious extremists on women's issues are also highlighted. These solutions emphasize collaboration across all societal strata and engaging diverse stakeholders, including the international community and progressive religious scholars, to champion effective, unified change.

"When successful women
lead by example and inspire

In their concluding remarks, Dr Arwa Al-Jabri, Dr Lubna Abdulaziz, and Ibtihal Al-Kumani provided expert guidance to attract more women to professional fields. They stressed the importance of education, self-confidence, and equipping oneself with knowledge, hope, and ambition. Acknowledging the clear distinctions between ethical and unethical behaviours, keeping up with industry advancements, showcasing women's strength and courage, and fostering self-trust contribute to a supportive and empowering environment. Furthermore, they highlighted the significance of women standing together, supporting each other in overcoming adversity and showcasing the power and intellect of women in the professional realm. When successful women lead by example and inspire others, more women are enticed to join these fields and instigate change.

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