Monday, April 1, 2013

Three Women Voices in Yemen's National Dialogue Conference

While observing Yemen's national dialogue conference from distance, the view seems blurry and inconstant. Nonetheless, few speeches by prominent speakers give impression that there is a determination to continue the struggle in demanding social justice and rights no matter what.

Among the various crucial topics the conference aims to address, women's issues are on the spot. Accordingly, female participants -who hold 30% of the overall seats in the conference- made sure that they voice out fundamental rights.

Women's rights advocate, Balqees al-Lahabi speaks about women's challenge to be in the public, "a woman needs quota because she still can't enter the decision-making platforms just like how she can't enter public spaces. In the same way you, politicians, set quotas for yourselves, we demand a quota for us, women, too," she says.

Award-wining human rights defender and chairperson of Sisters' Arab Forum for Human Rights,
Amal Basha speaks about having constitutional guarantees for the improvement of women's rights in Yemen, "women have been largely marginalized. Hence, we demand constitutional guarantees that say that women and men are equal in having same rights and duties," she says.

Writer and activist, Arwa Othman starts her speech by lamenting  how Yemen's jews and other religious minorities did not take part in the conference. Then, she speaks about the increase of defamation against activists and writers, "it's not going to be an exaggeration if we say that there is a systematic attack on women based on religious grounds. We demand the separation of religion and state. Plus, we demand a law that gives full and equal citizenship to all genders," she says.


All speeches seem terrific but the implementation is what's important. On top of that, those female participants have a huge responsibility to voice out issues of Yemen's rural women who compromise 2 third of Yemen's total female population.