In Sharʿab As-Salam district, its villages, and trees were used as classrooms under which Ms. Ma’een took her primary education. She has completed her education there, because there were no classrooms in their school at that time. She grew the seed of her ambition into a fruitful outcome and shadows, and in the midst of war she designs the path to peace.
Ms. Ma'een Al-Obaidi, 42 years old, a woman with a strong societal presence and a significant influence among people, lived like any rural girl who worked and tilled the land. However, her dream never left her mind until she ultimately got what she wanted and struggled for.
Supporter for Women
Ms. Ma'een was very passionate about human rights, so she got lucky when the Faculty of Law was opened in Taiz city, joined the second batch and got the 5th place in the batch for the academic year 2003. Her graduation project was entitled "Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law". After graduation, she continued her voluntary activities, and she was a supporter and defender of imprisoned women as a member of a legal team through the Yemen Women Union. She says "the women issues in prison were not paid attention to, but as a member of a female lawyers’ team and the head of the Yemen Women Union, I was concerned with moving and following up on women's cases voluntarily because I felt responsible for these helpless and vulnerable women".
In the Lawyers Syndicate Council
She had made considerable progress in her career and pleaded in many cases. She was the first woman who was promoted to become a member in the syndicate council in 2010 when she applied for the council from the syndicate branch. She became the person in charge for rights and freedoms in the syndicate. She also worked at the Yemeni Observatory for Human Rights to monitor violations in Taiz city during and after the Spring Revolution. Moreover, she worked in the local dialogue in Taiz city through the Political Development Forum (PDF-Yemen) as a coordinator for the dialogue in "Al-Janad Dialogue Forum” and was part of the monitoring committees to monitor human rights violations.
Since war broke out in 2015, Ms. Ma'een could not stand idly by, but worked in cooperation with her colleagues to communicate with the political parties and conflict parties and suggested to draft an agreement for a humanitarian truce starting from morning until evening. "Since the war's first shot was fired, civilians have paid a heavy toll, so I thought of the simplest solutions so that people could move around with less danger, as we struggle to implement a truce to alleviate people's suffering", she said.
Because her home and family are close to the armed front lines, her family was forced to flee with her only little daughter, but Ms. Ma'een remained in Taiz city, struggling to monitor violations with the Human Rights Commission. Ms. Ma'een says, "I had to travel every two weeks to the village to visit my daughter and family, where I crossed all the alternative, bumpy, and rugged roads. I felt and lived the people's suffering as a result of the roads being cut”.
Mediation for Road Opening
Due to her closeness to people and being affected by their suffering, she and her colleagues thought about the necessity of opening humanitarian roads and passages to alleviate the suffering of people and patients. She voluntarily worked as a mediator between the conflict parties to achieve the right of road service for people. She was equidistant to all parties, trying to provide appropriate solutions and proposals to reach a settlement to open a road for people. She says, “I voluntarily worked, by communicating with the conflict parties, to reach a solution to open the roads. I decided that roads must be opened to people in any way, as I was affected by the suffering of people with whom I took long and bumpy roads due to closure of the primary roads, especially patients with kidney failure who need dialysis treatment sessions weekly and do not have the travel costs for long bumpy roads. I am very sad for the suffering of such people, and I hope that the roads will be opened even for them”.
Regarding her role within the mediation team in the recent negotiations held in Amman, Jordan, last May, she and the team worked to present assumptions to the UN Special Envoy to Yemen about the roads that could be agreed upon and accepted with a detailed explanation about the roads to and from Taiz city. She says, "We have communicated and met separately with the conflict parties trying to convey people suffering and convince the parties that access to road service is a human right".
Ms. Ma'een gained and won the confidence of all parties, so she also worked as a mediator in the field of detainees and prisoners. She states, "I have no hostility with any party, and I raise issues with transparency, clarity and objectivity because what concerns me is the interest of civilians anywhere under the control of any party, and my mission is to monitor human rights violations against civilians by any party, so my relationship remained equidistant to all parties”.
Mediation for Water
Given that Taiz city's suffering has increased due to the water cuts, and sensing responsibility, Ms. Ma'een and her colleague worked as mediators in order to re-pump water for people. They acted as mediators to deliver water tanks and some wells, which were guarded by the Internationally Recognized Authority (IRG) in the city. Then they conducted a negotiating round with Ansar Allah, the De-Facto Authority (DFA) in Al-Hawban area, and made an agreement that, during the coming months, water would be pumped from areas controlled by DFA to the water tanks located in the areas controlled by the IRG to be distributed to all residential neighborhoods in Taiz city and Al-Hawban area as well.
Therefore, Ms. Ma'een's experience in mediation and negotiations on the peace process is not only a change in her life course, but it is an inspiring and encouraging experience for many Yemeni women, as her mission and interest will not stop. She will continue to pursue her mission until she achieves her goal of peace in Yemen.
In December 2022, Maeen was nominated as the only Yemeni and one of nine Arabic women among BBC’s list of 100 inspiring and influential women from around the world for 2022. In a statement, BBC honors among others her tireless efforts and mediator role in facilitating prisoner exchanges between conflicting groups.