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Women’s Public Participation in Yemen by 2030: A Scenario-Building Approach

اقرأ المحتوى باللغة العربية

Executive Summary

The prolonged war in Yemen has had dire consequences on gender equality, as evidenced by the republic’s regression in the Global Gender Gap Index. From 2006 to 2021, Yemen’s position plummeted from 115th to 155th. Economic participation and opportunity saw a stark decline in global standing, dropping from 114th to 154th, underscoring the challenges faced by Yemeni women in the workforce amidst the conflict. Educational attainment also witnessed a comparative decline, from 114th to 152nd. The health sector, based mainly on the sex ratio and life expectancy at birth as well as healthy life expectancy, showed a drop in global rank from 48th to 95th, hinting at broader gender disparities in health. Most alarmingly, political empowerment plummeted, with Yemen falling from 113th to 154th, demonstrating the political marginalization of women.[1] This worrying trend emphasizes the critical need for strategies that prioritize gender equality in Yemen’s post-conflict roadmap. Without concerted efforts, Yemen risks cementing this disturbing status quo or backsliding further. Ensuring that Yemeni women aren’t sidelined is not just a matter of gender justice, but is foundational to Yemen’s broader recovery and development.

In response to these trends, a three-day workshop organized by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies, titled “The Future of Women in the Public Sphere in Yemen”, was held from May 26-28, 2023, in Amman, Jordan. A group of 16 Yemeni participants, including academics, students, artists, journalists, educators, representatives from civil society and women’s groups, business professionals, and researchers were invited. The primary goal of the workshop was to gather detailed insights, strategize on existing challenges, and explore opportunities for empowering women in post-conflict Yemen. Participants were encouraged to anticipate challenges, pinpoint areas for crucial intervention, and identify promising strategies to enhance the empowerment of Yemeni women by 2030. The workshop employed scenario-building and the PESTEL analysis framework, which covers political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal dimensions, as its primary methodologies. Divided into groups, participants engaged in a scenario-building exercise to anticipate future challenges and opportunities for Yemeni women’s public participation by 2030. Three plausible scenarios were presented by the participants:

Empowerment: In this best-case scenario, Yemen experiences significant advancements in women’s rights and empowerment. This scenario is characterized by an inclusive political settlement, deep-rooted societal reforms, and a strengthened legal framework, signifying a progressive and inclusive future for Yemeni women.

Regression: This scenario depicts a non-comprehensive political settlement leading to uncertainty in economic, social, political, and legal life. It predicts increased marginalization of women, strict gender roles, economic setbacks, educational challenges, and a lack of international support.

Erosion: In this bleak scenario, Yemen becomes a failed state, characterized by political instability, religious extremism, and regression of women’s rights. This scenario anticipates the absence of a robust legal framework, exclusion of women from politics, economic downturn, educational decline, and erosion of international support.

Based on the above, a number of recommendations, comprising concrete action in the political, economic, social, technological, environmental, and legal realms, were put forward, with the aim of enhancing women’s public participation by 2030. These emphasize inclusivity and sustainability, and take into account the core principle of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals[2] (SDGs) and the impact of the war on both SDG 5 (Gender Equality) and SDG 16 (Just, Peaceful, and Inclusive Societies). The full, detailed recommendations are found at the end of this report.

Economic Recommendations:

To Local and National Authorities

  • Expand women’s access to financial services
  • Support female entrepreneurship
  • Support microfinance and business mentorship
  • Endorse community/informal saving systems and credit groups
  • Promote engagement in technology and information technology (IT) services
  • Promote formal employment, while protecting informal workers

To the UN and the International Community

  • Tailor economic empowerment initiatives
  • Mandate public access to gender-specific data
  • Focus on skills development, and IT and digital skills training
  • Provide legal support and financial inclusion for women
  • Empower women through mentorship and networking
  • Support working women across various sectors
  • Foster strategic partnerships and collaboration

Political and Legal Recommendations:

To Local and National Authorities

  • Reform policies that inhibit women’s participation in public life
  • Strengthen legal mechanisms to protect women from gender-based violence (GBV)
  • Encourage and promote women’s formal employment
  • Set a minimum age of marriage

To the UN and the International Community

  • Proactively engage women in political work
  • Set conditional participation tied to gender representation
  • Avoid pigeonholing women’s roles in peacebuilding
  • Work toward an inclusive and intersectional peace process

Social Recommendations:

To Local and National Authorities (including Religious Leaders)

  • Firmly promote girls’ and women’s education
  • Widely promote gender-sensitive policies
  • Engage communities in GBV awareness and reduction
  • Work hand in hand with religious leaders to promote women’s participation in public life

To the UN and the International Community

  • Intensify support for education programmes for girls and women
  • Leverage experience in combating social restrictive norms

Technology and Cyber Security Recommendations:

To Local and National Authorities

  • Support and incentivize women-led tech startups
  • Provide women with wider access to technology

To the UN and the International Community

  • Invest in cybersecurity training for women
  • Work to prevent and respond to online defamation
  • Prioritize technology transfer to mitigate the effects of climate change

Environment and Climate Recommendations:

To Local and National Authorities

  • Devise training programs on sustainable practices
  • Advocate for women’s roles in environmental sustainability projects

To the UN and the International Community:

  • Support women working in agriculture
  • Provide platforms for experience sharing and cooperation
  • Use women’s local knowledge and expertise when developing agricultural tools

This report was produced as part of the Supporting Women at the Table (SAWT) program, implemented by the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies in partnership with the Arab Reform Initiative, and funded by the European Union.

Endnotes
  1. “Global Gender Gap Report 2021,” World Economic Forum, 2021, https://www.weforum.org/reports/global-gender-gap-report-2021/
  2. The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of 17 global objectives established by the United Nations, aim to address key challenges such as poverty, inequality, and environmental sustainability by 2030.
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