February 16, 2017

"I am a girl but I can achieve what the men can achieve - to be a girl is not a sin"

Amani Abdulrahman has been advocating for women's and children's rights in Yemen

Amani Abdulrahman

Global Youth Ambassador from Yemen

Global Youth Ambassador Amani Abdulrahman writes about the discrimination and lack of rights suffered by girls and women in Yemen.

Discrimination in Yemen has sky-rocketed because of sexual discrimination caused by traditional circumstances. 

This issue has caused many controversial affairs such as protests by Yemeni women, deaths in society due to lack of health care and a large number of uneducated children, mostly girls. 

Women are grossly underrepresented in society, since there is no legislation to protect their freedom to make their own decisions, with regards to their human rights. 

Yemeni women are convinced to stay at home instead of getting an education or a job and, therefore, they have little or no opportunity to gain their own freedom or economic status.

A young girl colours in a drawing at her school in Yemen

Photo credit: Theirworld

Many women do not even have identification cards or voter status because of a lack of awareness. However, even if Yemeni women were not convinced to stay at home, their rights are so repressed by the males in their society that there is no way for them to gain their own freedom because of traditions. 

48% of women in Yemen are married by the time they are 18 and many of these marriages involve brides as young as eight years old. 

Yemeni women are not allowed to marry without the permission of their male guardians. Within their marriages, Yemeni women do not have equal rights to custody, divorce and require a husband or father’s permission to travel or get a passport.

I am a girl but I can achieve what the men can achieve. To be a girl is not a sin.  

Another form of discrimination in Yemen is that women cannot marry a non-Yemeni without approval from both her family and the state. 

Further, under the Nationality Law of 1990, Yemeni women cannot pass their citizenship on to their children unless the woman divorces her husband, her husband is found to be insane or her husband dies, in which case the children can gain citizenship when they turn 19. 

The children of Yemeni men married to foreigners, on the other hand, are assured of Yemeni citizenship.

Further, divorce and even the testimony of women is not equal to that of Yemeni men. Yemeni men have the right to divorce their wives at any time without justification - but a woman must go through a process of litigation in which they justify their reason for nullifying the marriage contract. 

That has not prevented women from trying to make their voices heard through participating in different fields and elections since our ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh encouraged Yemeni women to participate in society.

Women deserve to have equal human rights globally - and the lack of rights in Yemen is a matter that needs to be recognised and solved.

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