Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Yemeni Women’s presence in protests vital for diversity

Sana'a- Mar 8, 2011- Yemeni women have shown strong involvement in politics by participating in ongoing public marches and demonstrations currently underway across the country.

This political participation reflects their attitude about the country’s issues. Women are both supportive and critical of President Ali Abdullah Saleh; some admire him, others want him to simply leave office.

The country ruling party, the General People’s Congress (GPC), has organized women’s festivals and rallies in support of President Saleh.

This included a rally last Thursday in Sana’a which was attended by thousands of women lifting banners that read, “No to violence and chaos”.

At this rally, women also emphasized a desire that the opposition coalition, Joint Meeting Parties (JMP), to return to a national dialogue to end the current dead-lock.

These women want democracy via elections. They have also asked the JMP to withdraw from widespread protests. Pro- and anti-government demonstrations with women's participation has been a crucial factor in showing conflicting political forces and voices in Yemeni society.

Women have previously shown their different views on women's political participation and there has widely been agreement on the importance of their political and societal role.

Shatha al-Harazi, a Yemeni female journalist and activist, said that women's participation in demonstrations was «very effective». “Their participation is still low but it is increasing every day. It is a concrete development that the Yemeni women get out and participate in such protests and express their opinions,” said al-Harazi.

«Most of the women protestors are participating because they have some problems with the government. There are fears from their family and social obstacles that prevent women from participating in the demonstrations though,” she added. Noha Gamal, an employee who lives in Aden, said that the role of women was no different from men participating in protests.

“We have the right to express our opinions. The participation of women in the beginning of these demonstrations was low and there were only activists and journalists. After that the number of women at protests began to increase. I think that women are starting to become more aware of the big role they can play,” said Gamal. She said that she and her friends used the website Facebook to meet and express their opinions.

She said that this was a way to make contact with other women who also want to participate in protests. “I met with some friends on Facebook and then we met at some protests,” she said. Salma al-Masa’abi, manager of the education office in al-Saba’een district in Sana'a, said that she didn't want to participate in street protests though.

“The role of Yemeni women is not to participate in such anti-government protests. They must demand the security and stability of Yemen and not the destruction of our country,” said al-Masa’abi. “We don’t want the chaos and war in Yemen. I called all Yemeni women and mothers to advise their sons and families to return to dialogue and to stop imitating the revolutions of Tunisia and Egypt.”

Source: Yemen Observer

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