Nadia Al-Sakkaf: War in Yemen gives women more responsibility but not empowerment
Nadia Al-Sakkaf is a researcher specializing in gender and politics. She was the first Yemeni woman appointed as Information Minister. Before that she was The Yemen Times Chief Editor. She is currently a PhD candidate at Reading University in UK. The opinions in this article belong to the author.
It was an all-female gathering after a funeral for a family mourning their son, killed in Yemen’s on-going civil war.
The interesting thing about this gathering was that there were relatives present who were fighting on opposing sides of the conflict.
Nevertheless, the women came together in grief. They were simply women talking about losing their sons to the war and about how life has become so hard for everyone in Yemen.
The conflict, which started in 2014, has claimed the lives of many Yemenis directly through combat or through disease and hunger. UN statistics said that up until September 2017, over 5,000 people had been killed in the war — 20% of which were children.
But the war has also had a much longer-term impact on Yemeni society: it has changed the country forever — especially for women.
It is Yemen’s women who during the conflict have maintained the social fabric of society and kept communities together. They are the nurturers, mediators, peacemakers, and keepers of tradition.
Because of the conflict, the entire socio-cultural balance of the society has been tipped over.
Across Yemen, women find themselves in charge of managing the poverty afflicting their communities — and they do so with very few resources and, in some cases, no qualifications.
They bake bread at home and sell it. Some have become maids and offer their cleaning services to others for little money.