Among the shining figures in Aden is Noor Abdullah Al-Yousifi, distinguished in the art of dialogue and dispute resolution. How did she emerge as a beacon of change and resolution in her community?
In the garden of her humble residence on the fringes of Aden, Noor Abdullah Al-Yousifi greeted me with a welcoming smile. Dressed in her black abaya, a traditional garment for the women of Aden, she beams with pride in her work, having been a pillar of resolution in her community for over two decades.
Now at fifty, Noor delved deep into her journey in conflict resolution – a journey that significantly shaped her life. Despite being illiterate, she has "successfully addressed and mitigated major disputes, ensuring the well-being of the local community."
Positive Impact Despite Challenges
Fondly referred to as Um Hussain, she leads a life like many others. However, when it comes to societal involvement, she's deeply entrenched in addressing people's issues. Noor is of the opinion that women, given their innate understanding of households, can better resolve familial issues than men. They possess the ease of communicating with everyone in a family setting, from women to children, and can adeptly address concerns of divorcees, widows, and tackle domestic violence.
Trust and a sterling reputation
are key to mediating conflicts.
Noor emphasizes a woman's potential to connect deeper with individuals, encouraging them to share their problems, especially those they might be reluctant to discuss with men.
In her words, "Trust and a sterling reputation within the community enhance one's ability to mediate conflicts." She adds, "Such trust, which I've been blessed with from everyone, stems from my impartiality and the respect I've garnered in my area and beyond."
Locals concur that Um Hussain's prowess in managing crises qualifies her for an official position in dispute resolution. The reverence she holds is universal, spanning across all age groups.
Skill and Flexibility in Conflict Resolution
Noor's interventions span a range of disputes, from land and construction issues to neighbourhood safety and service provision. She's also adeptly steered families away from the precipice of separation, cementing her reputation as a guardian of family unity – a core pillar of the community.
Reflecting on her earlier days, Um Hussain spoke of her efforts to streamline traffic in her village in the Makiras region, prior to relocating to Aden. She'd often traverse great lengths on foot to cater to her family, facing opposition from certain villagers. Yet, she remained undeterred, buoyed by the majority that backed her community-driven initiatives.
She recounted a particularly trying dispute in the Al-Mamdarah area of Aden, involving relatives at odds over land. As Um Hussain described, "The discord escalated to threats and potential violence."
Despite attempts by security forces and local elders, peace remained elusive until Um Hussain stepped in. "After separately engaging with the parties and gaining their trust, I brokered a final resolution that both sides embraced."
Resilient in the Face of Challenges
Umm Hussein's resilience and tenacity are particularly striking. While life has dealt her many blows, she's remained unyielding, continuously supporting her children following the loss of their father two decades ago. Today, they stand with her, appreciative of her sacrifices. As she puts it, "Life is filled with challenges, but with determination and willpower, miracles can be achieved."
With determination and willpower,
miracles can be achieved.
Her laughter is infectious as she recalls volunteering her mediation services, often journeying vast distances on foot and returning home spent. Such endeavors took a toll, both emotionally and physically, yet she persevered.
Even as Aden descended into the chaos of the war, her commitment to her community remained unwavering. "I'm inundated with calls and requests, particularly from the marginalized seeking justice. Using my accumulated experience, I strive to bridge differences and carve out mutually agreeable solutions."
A Symbol of Strength and Empowerment
For Noor, being among the pioneering Yemeni women to undertake such a pivotal societal role, especially amidst national strife and deteriorating security, is a source of immense pride. Resolving disputes brings her unparalleled joy and contentment.
My current Stature isn't an accident.
In Yemen, the domain of dispute resolution, typically reserved for men, especially given the state's absence, seldom sees female representation. "My path wasn't smooth, and it certainly won't be for any Yemeni woman attempting to make inroads in this arena or to challenge societal norms," remarks Umm Hussein.
In reflection, she adds, "My current stature isn't an accident; it's the culmination of years of community service, connecting with people, understanding their needs, and addressing the community's broader challenges."
Undeterred, she's successfully defied societal expectations, championing the belief that women are equal contributors alongside men in all tasks and endeavours.