Monday, December 14, 2015

Women’s access to the Yemen peace talks

"The latest round of peace talks between the Yemeni government and Houthi rebels is slated to begin in Geneva next week. The two parties will negotiate a cease-fire agreement to end the recent nine-month conflict that has devastated the Gulf state—one of the world’s most impoverished and worst scoring countries in terms of gender equality, even before the Houthi insurgency broke out last March. Each delegation will consist of 12 members. A week from the start of negotiations, however, delegations have yet to be finalized, in part because the UN has insisted that women be added to the presently all-male delegations. Houthi officials barred Dr. Shafiqa al-Wahsh, a prominent Yemeni women’s rights leader, from traveling to preparatory meetings. Al-Wahsh is just one of many women’s advocates trying to make inroads to the peace talks: in October, 45 women representing different political parties and ethno-religious factions met with the UN Special Envoy to Yemen for a workshop on the effect the war is having on women and to discuss avenues for women’s participation in formal peacebuilding processes."