Maternal Health in Yemen
The Yemen civil war, which began in early 2015 and still devastates the nation today, has created the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. A total of 24 million people require assistance. This crisis affects all aspects of life in Yemen, including healthcare. Millions are without access to life-saving medical treatment and supplies, leading them to die of preventable diseases, such as cholera, diabetes and diphtheria. Pregnant women and infants are particularly vulnerable during this health crisis as adequate medical care throughout pregnancy and birth is essential. Maternal health in Yemen is of the utmost concern now.

Yemen has one of the highest maternal mortality rates in the world with 17% of the female deaths in the reproductive age caused by childbirth complications. Maternal health in Yemen has never been accessible to all women. This crisis has escalated even further during the Yemeni civil war. However, global organizations are acting to save the lives of these pregnant women and infants who desperately need medical care.

Yemen’s Maternal Health Crisis: Before the Civil War

Even before the war began in 2015, pregnant women were struggling to get the help they needed. Yemen is one of the most impoverished countries in the world — ranking at 177 on the Human Development Index (HDI). Poverty is a large factor in the insufficiency of maternal health in Yemen as impoverished women lack the finances, nutrition, healthcare access and education to deliver their babies safely.

Many Yemeni women are unaware of the importance of a trained midwife during childbirth. Of all the births in rural areas, 70% happen at home rather than at a healthcare facility. Home births increase the risk of death in childbirth as the resources necessary to deal with complications are not available.

The Yemeni Civil War Increased the Maternal Health Crisis

Since the civil war began, the maternal mortality rate in Yemen has spiked from five women a day in 2013 to 12 women a day in 2019. A variety of factors caused this spike. The war has further limited access to nearly every resource, including food and water. This, in turn, depletes the health of millions of women and thus their newborns.

Also, the civil war has dramatically decreased access to healthcare across the nation. An estimated 50% of the health facilities in the country are not functional as a result of the conflict. Those that are operational are understaffed, underfunded and unable to access the medical equipment desperately needed to help the people of Yemen. This especially affects pregnant women — who require medical care to give birth safely.

Organizational Aid

Though the situation in Yemen remains dire, various global organizations are acting to assist pregnant women and newborns. The United Nations Children’s’ Emergency Fund (UNICEF) is taking the initiative to help millions across Yemen, including pregnant women. The organization has sent health workers and midwives into the country’s rural areas to screen and treat pregnant women for complications.

Similarly, USAID trained more than 260 midwives and plans to send them into Yemeni communities to help pregnant women and infants. USAID is partnering with UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the Yemen Ministry of Public Health and Population and other organizations to ensure that maternal health in Yemen, as well as all types of healthcare, are adequate and accessible for all affected by the civil war.

Maternal health in Yemen, while never having been accessible for many, is now in crisis as a result of the Yemeni civil war. While the situation is still urgent, organizations such as USAID and UNICEF are fighting to ensure that all pregnant women and infants in Yemen have access to the medical care they desperately need.

Daryn Lenahan
Photo: Flickr

Yemen's Coronavirus Crisis
Yemen’s civil war and the resulting violence considered currently the ‘worst humanitarian crisis in the world,” a crisis that is heavily rooted in the regional divide coupled with resource insecurity. The coronavirus pandemic which broke out at the beginning of 2020 and spread globally has only increased the strain on war-torn countries. Yemen’s coronavirus crisis strained the country’s already heavily underfunded healthcare system and its ability to reach the most vulnerable.

The Conflict in Yemen thus far:

To understand just how urgent the need is to address the coronavirus crisis in Yemen, one must first understand the already raging crisis for Yemeni civilians caught in this conflict.

  • The Civil War:                                                                                                                                                                                                  The civil war in Yemen started in 2015 and has caused an already poor country to continue to deteriorate under the strain of war. The conflict’s main actors are the government on one side and the Houthi led rebels on the other. The civil war has in many ways acted as a front for the proxy war raging between the two hegemons of the region: Saudi Arabia (which backs the government forces) and Iran (which backs the Houthi forces). Most of the conflict occurs on the west side of the country, where many of the major ports are located. This has heavily affected the ability for humanitarian aid to get to vulnerable civilians. These resources vary from food, water, to medical supplies. In addition, the final destination of the aid that is being delivered to Yemen is being contested by major aid donors like the World Food Programme. The organization has accused the Houthi rebels who control the northern part of the country of stealing aid meant for civilians according to a June report by Al Jazeera.

Results of the conflict in Yemen:

Results of Coronavirus in Yemen:

Around 80% of the country is dependent on humanitarian assistance. The United Nations (UN) has projected that there could be more casualties as a result of COVID-19 than have “been caused from the last 5 years of conflict, which is estimated at 100,000.”

Due to COVID-19, the number of children left without access to educated has more than tripled, totaling 7.8 million children. Aden, a major city in Yemen is struggling with a rising casualty count with “roughly 950 deaths in the first half of May” reported by CNN. Yemen is currently fighting two other major contagious diseases, and the rise of COVID-19 as a third has affected Yemen’s ability to distribute funding and medical resources, as they are already scarce due to the conflict casualties and the other viruses. (CNN) Many cities have filled hospitals to their full capacity and cannot admit any more people despite the growing number of cases (CNN).  People are being turned away due to a lack of access to ventilators (with some cities having less than 20 total). (CNN)

Steps being taken to control Yemen’s coronavirus crisis:

The dead are not allowed to be visited and mourned by friends and family to prevent social gathers and spread of the virus.

UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is” increasing aid to Yemen” to address the COVID-19 crisis and its effects on civilians affected by the conflict (Al Jazeera). The situation in Yemen is bleak and represents the worst of what a global pandemic can do to a country whose systems and infrastructures are depleted from years of war. The best hope Yemen has for addressing their civilians in need is to use the aid they receive from the Un and similar actors and seek out the most vulnerable populations first and prioritize investing in more medical necessities like ventilators and other essential equipment.

Kiahna Stephens

Photo: Pixabay

crisis in yemenCivil war has taken over Yemen for over five years. As a result, upward of 12 million minors are in desperate need of some form of humanitarian aid, making the crisis in Yemen the largest humanitarian crisis in the world. Experts fear Yemen’s violent and impoverished conditions will have a severe effect on the mental health, and consequent futures, of the country’s children.

Violence in Yemen

As a country of extreme poverty to begin with, Yemen is struggling in this time of war. Violence and fighting remain constant as clashing forces, including the Houthis and the Saudi-led coalition, fight for power.

Although all demographics in Yemen have been strongly affected, children are bearing the brunt of this crisis in Yemen. The Yemen Data project recorded over 17,500 deaths since the beginning of the war in 2015. The deaths of children were a large portion of the casualties, forcing Yemeni children to constantly fear the death of a friend, sibling or even their own death. Additionally, with approximately 12 airstrikes on Yemen each day, the sounds of war are consuming. The war is inescapable for those in Yemen.

Health and Nutrition During Crisis

Many of the systems taken for granted in developed countries collapsed in Yemen as a result of the war. Health services are extremely limited, leaving over 10 million Yemeni children without access to healthcare services, which are of great importance in one’s formative years. High rates of disease and unsanitary conditions due to the overcrowding of millions of displaced families make the lack of these services even more tragic.

Furthermore, the crisis in Yemen has placed over 10 million Yemenis at risk of famine, while double this number are already food insecure. Such malnutrition results in the hindered development of children in Yemen.

Another system that is important to the development of children in general is the education system. Like the systems mentioned before, Yemen’s educational system has also suffered amidst this continuing war. As of June 2020, almost 8 million Yemeni children were unable to attend school, damaging their development and futures.

Yemen Mental Health Studies

A recent study conducted by Save the Children, an organization aiming to better the lives of the world’s children through health, educational and aid services, surveyed over 1,250 Yemeni children and guardians. From this survey, Save the Children found 50% of the children who responded said they experience feelings of depression amidst the crisis in Yemen.

In addition to feelings of sadness, 20% of the children said they live in extreme fear. Parents and caregivers supported this statistic, claiming their children had experienced increased incidents of nightmares and bedwetting. Such common feelings and behaviors indicate a growing prevalence of mental health disorders, including PTSD and depression, in children in Yemen.

Consequences of the Crisis in Yemen

Dr. Carol Donnelly, a psychotherapist and professor of psychology at Northwestern University, told The Borgen Project about her concern for children experiencing the conditions of the crisis in Yemen. “If the trauma lasts for too long, which apparently it is, the kids could have all sorts of dissociative experiences (related to PTSD), just extreme mental health issues,” Donnelly said.

With constant fears of attack and altered living conditions in Yemen, Donnelly stated that there may be potential consequences of changing parent-child relationships during this crisis. “[Children] need to be in a relationship with an adult, not only for attachment emotionally, but just for learning so many things,” she said. “This relationship helps to wire the brain up properly, and if kids are not getting that because the parents are overwhelmed as well, we’re just going to have a whole generation of severely traumatized children. Children that will just be a burden on the entire society.”

She also referenced Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, explaining that we need to provide the most basic needs of these children, such as water and food, as a priority. Then we must provide these Yemeni children safety and shelter before ensuring they have loving relationships. By following this psychological theory, she hopes children will be able to mentally progress despite the crisis in Yemen.

Aid from Afar

Several global organizations are working to provide assistance to this generation of suffering Yemeni children in order to help them become successful regardless of their conditions. One such organization, Save the Children, has made efforts to make these children feel safe amidst the crisis in Yemen by creating engaging, peaceful spaces for children in Yemen to play and spend time with friends while consequently promoting further cognitive development. Here, these children can act without fear, as normal children would. Since the initiation of this project, almost a quarter of a million Yemeni children have visited these spaces.

Additionally, Save the Children is working to promote awareness around childhood mental health and rights in Yemen while also training mental specialists in the country. With only a couple of child psychiatrists servicing the entirety of Yemen, there is little education for the general population of Yemen surrounding this area of healthcare.

“Psychology is just … not recognized as a formal science in some countries yet. It is still very much stigmatized,” Donnelly agreed. “I think what would be a good solution is to have a psychologist train the people there how to simply be present and to exude unconditional love and empathy and to listen. That’s something anyone can do.”

– Hannah Carroll
Photo: Flickr

Yemen's Healthcare System
For people across the globe, the battle against COVID-19 can feel hopeless. Developed countries like the U.S. have struggled to contain the virus; COVID-19 has infected over 5 million Americans since March 2020. However, extensive healthcare resources have helped developed immensely. Ventilators and ICU beds, access to proper sanitation, and the technology to work from home have left many unscathed and have allowed many to make a full recovery. Therefore, it is important to remember the countries that do not have these resources. For example, COVID-19 has been particularly devastating in Yemen, in part, due to Yemen’s healthcare system. 

Conflict, Cholera and COVID-19

Yemen has been enduring a civil war for over five years. The main conflicts are between Houthi rebels and the government of President Hadi. In addition to claiming over 100,000 lives, the violence has exacerbated already daunting public health statistics. Currently, about 50% of the country’s medical facilities are nonfunctional. The U.N. has reported that Yemen is enduring the world’s worst humanitarian crisis with about 80% of the population (or 24.1 million people) in desperate need of humanitarian assistance. In addition, the country is enduring the worst modern-day cholera crisis, reporting approximately 110,000 cases in April 2020.

With the backdrop of the ongoing civil war, Yemen’s healthcare system is unable to support the country. Yemen has 500 ventilators and 700 ICU beds for a population of over 28 million. The Associated Press reported that there are no doctors in 18% of 333 Yemeni districts. Although the country has reported one of the lowest transmission rates in the Middle East, this is largely due to an inability to test. In fact, the country has processed fewer than 1,000 tests; this is about 31 tests per 1 million citizens. There is also evidence of purposeful under testing. The Houthi Ministry of Public Health and Population stated that reporting statistics have negative effects on the psychological health and immune systems of citizens.

Hospitals have seen a 40% mortality rate and have resorted to admitting patients based on age and odds of survival, reported Marc Schakal, Doctors Without Borders’ Deputy Operations Manager for Yemen. The country’s health system has “collapsed” according to the UNHCR. Lise Grande, the U.N. head of humanitarian operations in Yemen reported that the COVID-19 death toll could “exceed the combined toll of war, disease, and hunger over the last five years.”

COVID-19’s Impact Beyond the Healthcare System

The virus has also driven up the prices of food necessities, adding to the high toll of families that rely on aid to survive day-to-day. The U.N. has been attempting to help, but with a lack of funds, it is only possible to provide half-rations for the 8 million-plus hungry people. Hunger has hit women and children the hardest; over 2 million children under the age of 5 are suffering from acute malnutrition.

The lack of international aid in the face of such a tragedy is saddening. Millions of people are essentially being left to die. The United States cut $73 million of aid towards Yemen in March 2020, just as the virus was becoming a global issue. The statistics clearly show it will take a greater effort from the global community to improve Yemen’s outlook.

How to Help

As Sara Beysolow Nyant, UNICEF’s representative to Yemen, expressed, without urgent funding, “The international community will be sending a message that the lives of children in a nation devastated by conflict, disease, and economic collapse, simply do not matter.” Unfortunately, most countries have focused on containing the virus internally. Hopefully, some of the international community will turn its attention to the countries in the greatest need.

For individuals looking to help, donations to groups like UNICEF, Doctors Without Borders and Oxfam will provide aid. Additionally, calling and emailing Congress can also have a profound impact.

Abigail Wilson
Photo: Flickr

TikTok ActivismYemen’s humanitarian crisis is routinely categorized as the worst humanitarian crisis in the world. Over the last five years, from when the Yemeni Civil War launched the emergency, children have been hit the hardest. Tens of thousands of children have died, not only from the conflict but also due to preventable diseases and malnutrition. UNICEF estimates that about 80% of Yemen’s population is in desperate need of humanitarian aid. Because children are among the most affected by the crisis, four out of every five children (about 12.3 million) require help. TikTok activism, spearheaded by millennials and Gen Z, has been instrumental in bringing awareness to this pressing issue.

Though this crisis certainly isn’t new, its importance has become increasingly relevant on social media, and perhaps just in time. With the outbreak of the coronavirus, Yemen is facing a twofold crisis. There is a short supply of clean water, sanitation, and necessary protective equipment. Not only are many healthcare facilities closed or out of operation, but many health workers aren’t being paid. If there was a greater time to bring to light the severity of what’s going on in Yemen, it appears to be now.

Social Media Activism

With 90 percent of people aged 18-29 using at least one social media site, Millennials and Gen Z rule the internet. Different social media apps have evolved to have a specific brand of content. For example, Instagram is a place for aesthetically and visually pleasing pictures. TikTok became famous for dance trends and short, funny videos. Twitter is known for its 480 character-long quippy remarks.

In recent months, young adults and teens have used apps like Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram for more than status updates. Instead, they’ve cleverly utilized the apps’ algorithms to spread the word of issues that are important to them, one of which is the crisis in Yemen. According to research done by Pew Research Center, 44 percent of people aged 18-29 “encouraged others to take action on issues that are important to them.” This is exemplified in the way these young adults are advocating and rallying to end the humanitarian crisis in Yemen.

Activism on TikTok

User @_mennabarakaa is an example of TikTok activism. She posted a video to her TikTok account performing dance moves that have become nearly synonymous with the app. In front of the dance moves, she posted facts about the crisis in Yemen and encouraged followers to donate. The video was viewed over 141,000 times and has received around 25,000 likes.

This is not the first TikTok on the subject that has gone viral. Another, posted by Jinan, known as @jinanchwdhury on TikTok, started off a “hair reveal,” teasing users by pretending to take off her hijab. Instead, she cut to photos and facts about Yemen. Both videos were 60 seconds or less.

@jinanchwdhury

#fyp #hijabi #foryou #foryoupage #DazItUp #prideicon #activist #blm #blacklivesmatter #savetheuighurs #uighurmuslims #yemen #saveyemen #yemencrisis

♬ never be the same slowed – newslowedsongz

Jinan, who currently has 53.3K followers on TikTok, started using her account for activism because she felt stuck offline.

“I initially posted content on the Yemen crisis because I wished to help however I could,” she wrote via Instagram direct messages. Since she was a teenager, she felt there wasn’t much she could do. “I tried to sign as many petitions as I could, and I thought that using my voice and raising awareness is a crucial way for me to do my part.”

TikTok has been essential in how she’s advocated for other teenagers to do what they can to help the Yemen crisis. She reposts content she finds helpful on Twitter and Instagram, and her TikTok is where she puts content into her own words.

TikTok’s algorithm

TikTok’s algorithm, which is based partly on how an individual user interacts with content, also pushes videos with certain hashtags. This is good news for TikTok activism creators like Jinan. If their videos end up on a user’s page because the poster utilized popular hashtags (like Jinan did in her hijab video), the user may interact with that video. As a result, they’re more likely to see similar TikToks. This algorithm is something that Jinan has used to her advantage.

She believes the app’s algorithm makes it easier for her content to get seen. “The reason why I started activism on TikTok was to maximize the amount of people I could reach and raise awareness to.” And it works — her videos consistently rake in thousands of view. Jinan’s video on the Yemen crisis received over 440 thousand views.

“I’m so grateful that [the Yemen video] reached hundreds of thousands of people,” Jinan wrote. “I feel as though I did as much as I could by raising awareness to so many people.”

Activism on Instagram

This new wave of social media activism isn’t limited to TikTok. Journalist Mary Retta claims “the Instagram Article” has used aesthetics to their advantage and spread activist content to users who otherwise wouldn’t engage in it. Accounts like @soyouwanttotalkabout and @impact package information through short, 7-to-10-page slideshows that feature fun colors and fonts. This beautification of the news, while different from a typical article, is effective in its goal. The accounts have 1.2 million and 455 thousand followers, respectively, and are just two of many similar pages. Instagram is also a completely free app. Information on global health crises is not locked behind a paywall like it is for other mainstream news services.

This social media revolution of sorts is a huge development in the involvement of young adults and teenagers for issues such as global poverty. By crafting content catered to be successful on specific apps, more and more young adults are not only raising awareness for these issues but also encouraging others to do what they can.

Sophie Grieser
Photo: Flickr

COVID-19 in Yemen
“Over the past five years, I can’t count the number of times I’ve thought that surely things can’t get more desperate in Hodeidah, [Yemen,]” writes Salem Jaffer Baobaid for The New Humanitarian. Fortunately, fighting and airstrikes have ceased in the city, but the Yemeni Civil War still rages on in other parts of the nation. Now, however, COVID-19 promises to further complicate the situation in Yemen. According to UNICEF, approximately 80% of the Yemeni people require humanitarian aid, which is around 24 million people nationwide. Amid the terror and destruction, hospitals are shutting down, leaving people more vulnerable than ever to the biological dangers of COVID-19 in Yemen. To understand the state of addressing the pandemic in Yemen, one must be aware of the conflict unfolding, how COVID-19 affects the conflict and what assistance is being provided to the Yemeni people.

Where Did This Violence Come From?

After the Arab Spring demonstrations in 2011, former President Ali Abdullah Saleh is replaced through a Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) deal placing Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his deputy, into power. Houthis, the other major group in the conflict, are pushing against Hadi’s power and Saudi influence in the region. In 2014, the Houthis took control over the capital, Sanaa, Yemen, which led to more violence and airstrikes led by Saudi Arabian forces. However, the Houthis are known to be supported by Iran informally, though there are rumors of financial and military support as well.

COVID-19 in Yemen Amid Conflict

Amid airstrikes, city-wide takeovers and alleged coups, the Yemeni people have been largely forgotten. Hospitals all over the nation have shut down due to physical damage and shortages of fuel and medical resources. Only 51% of hospitals and clinics were functioning as of 2015. Meanwhile, over 300 districts in Yemen do not have a single doctor operating within their borders. Due to hospital shutdowns, there are 675 Intensive Care Unit (ICU) beds and only 309 ventilators available. These numbers demonstrate the very real threat posed by COVID-19. Lack of reliable reporting and economic struggles have only deepened the struggle to contain COVID-19 in Yemen.

On April 2, 2020, a Houthi news organization reported the first case of COVID-19 in Yemen, but this was retracted only for another news release to be published around a week later. As of June 2020, the nation reports 1,100 cases and over 300 deaths, placing the startling mortality rate near 25%.

COVID-19 is also creating economic troubles for Yemen’s citizens. Many people in Yemen are reliant on remittances, or money being sent to them from a relative outside of the country. However, COVID-19 has led to economic recessions and copious layoffs all over the world. As a result, people who have lost jobs are unable to send money back to Yemen.

As the nation struggled to grapple with the loss of remittances and a surge in COVID-19 cases, Yemen also lost international aid that it relied on. The United States alone cut $73 million of aid to Yemen in April 2020 as a response to its own COVID-19 crisis, according to Oxfam.

Assisting the Yemeni People

Amid such chaos, nonprofit groups are moving in to fight for the underdog. Oxfam stands out as one of the most effective groups. Oxfam is currently working to help families in small refugee settlements throughout the nation. There Oxfam digs wells to increase accessibility to clean water in addition to passing out “hygiene kits” that include mosquito nets, wash bins, water jugs and more.

Oxfam is also heavily involved in educating people on how to avoid contracting diseases such as COVID-19 in Yemen. Meanwhile, there are groups working in the United States government to stop its halt on funding for the crisis in Yemen.

– Allison Moss
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in Yemen Women in Yemen are enduring one of the worst humanitarian crises in history. After a 2011 Arab Spring uprising forced longtime dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh out of office, deputy Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi took power and enlivened Yemenis with hope for change. In contrast to these expectations, however, civil unrest and development setbacks like corruption crippled Hadi’s government. The Houthi movement, a militant Shiite group, capitalized on this political disarray in 2015 and seized huge territories throughout the country, including the capital in Sana’a. Soon after, a coalition of U.S.-backed, Sunni-majority countries deployed troops to eradicate this Shia influence in Yemen. A brutal war followed that has expelled Hadi from the country, killed thousands and deepened extreme poverty and food insecurity for millions. The conflict has subjected women, who are already victims of deeply rooted prejudice, to increasingly unjust gender roles and violence. Fortunately, numerous organizations and legislation are working to advance women’s rights in Yemen.

Gender Inequality in Yemen

Patriarchal norms have long prevailed in Yemen. For 13 years, the Global Gender Gap Index has identified women’s rights in Yemen as the worst in the world. As the fighting continues, widespread instability is magnifying the country’s vast gender inequality.

Educational and economic opportunities for Yemeni women are severely limited. According to the World Economic Forum, only 35% of women are literate compared with 73% of men. While a majority of women receive primary education, only 40% continue on to secondary schooling. Such educational gender disparity, coupled with misogyny in the job market and burdensome responsibilities at home, contributes to women’s shockingly low labor force participation rate of 6.3%.

Beyond economic injustice, Yemeni women face a bleak social landscape. Tasked with managing the domestic sphere, women strain to procure even basic necessities such as food. This is especially true recently, as the civil conflict has subverted conventional supply lines. The concept of males as female guardians further jeopardizes women’s safety in Yemen, as a woman is considered safer when escorted by a male. With working husbands and pressing needs at home, however, women are forced to venture out unaccompanied. Without effective laws to defend them, women are left vulnerable to sexual assault and physical violence.

Years of conflict have eroded the institutions that once might have protected these women. The urgency of national stability has also relegated women’s security to a position of low priority. Even in previous times of peace, however, women had little means to voice grievances and even less power to enact change. Today, Yemeni women’s political participation remains low, with women making up a paltry 0.3% of parliament.

Amid the global push for gender equality, traditionalist insecurities drive men to violent retaliation against societal change, exacerbating the challenges women already face. But the outlook is not entirely hopeless. Here are four forces that are working to advance women’s rights in Yemen.

4 Forces Advancing Women’s Rights in Yemen

  1. Yemeni Women’s Pact for Peace and Security. Formed in 2015 after collaboration with U.N. Women, the pact is an association of Yemeni women aimed at ending the country’s protracted civil war. Beyond its aspirations for peace, the group has spearheaded women’s involvement in civic activism, paving the way for long-term political empowerment.
  2. Yemeni Women’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG). Also working to redress women’s exclusion from politics, the TAG comprises women from various areas of vocational expertise and serves as an advisory body. In addition to conferring on policy, TAG members participate in various peace talks. One such conference was the 2018 Stockholm consultation, in which the warring parties arranged to remove troops from Hudaydah, where fighting threatened to close off a crucial port to the Yemeni population. Though both sides have yet to observe this consensus, the Stockholm agreement set a precedent of women’s involvement in the civil negotiation of a violent, divisive conflict.
  3. Keeping Girls in School Act. Already passed in the House of Representatives, the Keeping Girls in School Act would combat global gender disparities in education. Under this act, USAID would execute a procedure to circumvent common obstacles to girls’ education, such as child marriage and patriarchal norms, and to boost female enrollment in secondary schooling. If passed, this act would abate Yemen’s severe educational inequality and equip adolescent girls with the knowledge and skills for future occupational success. Not only would the Keeping Girls in School Act enhance women’s rights in Yemen; according to Congressional findings, increasing girls’ education sparks development and economic progress. Thus, the act is both a form of social reform and a strategic necessity.
  4. Girls’ Leadership, Engagement, Agency, and Development (LEAD) Act. Referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations in late 2019, the Girls LEAD Act has the potential to advance adolescent girls’ political involvement and civic engagement. The bill provides for USAID’s implementation of a comprehensive plan to educate and empower girls in developing nations. The Girls LEAD Act, if passed, would extend unparalleled political opportunity to Yemeni girls, helping to dismantle restrictive gender norms and molding once-disenfranchised women into agents of meaningful change.

As the civil war rages on, women’s conditions in Yemen may appear an irremediable predicament. Yet determined organizations, dynamic legislation and a country of women eager to escape society’s shackles are working to advance women’s rights in Yemen and make gender equality a reality.

– Rosalind Coats
Photo: Wikimedia Commons