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SupportYemen’s Women Citizenship and Political Participation Discussion

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738367_10200229696734270_1458713676_oSupportYemen held an event on January 3rd entitled “Women’s Citizenship and their Political Participation in the Constitution”. A prelude to the discussion included the texts on citizenship in the Yemeni constitutions of 1978-1994 and the suggested amendments. The 47 participants were divided into 7 focus groups to discuss the articles in the appendix and the suggestions relating to these articles, adding comments regarding the suggestions in addition to discussing the possible obstacles that can be faced if these suggestions were carried forward. The event ended with a general group discussion following the focus group discussions.

The major constitutional amendments regarding women’s representation which were summarized in the appendix were as follows:

• Amendment of article (4) from the constitution “the people own the power and are its source, and they exercise it directly through the referendum and general elections and indirectly through the executive, legislative and judiciary bodies and through the local elected councils.” to include women’s representation in these bodies to be no less than 30%.

• Adopting the proportional list system or the mixed system to guarantee women’s participation considering that they are among the marginalized categories that would be protected by the proportional list instead of the single individual electoral system, which is adopted in article (63) in the current constitution.

• Adding the feminine description to the conditions of the president of the republic as condition (F) of article (107) in the current constitution so that it is modified from “is not married to a foreigner and does not marry a foreigner during his term” to “Is not married (feminine/masculine) from a foreigner (feminine/ masculine).

According to the previous constitutional suggestions, a minimum of 30% women’s participation percentage should be considered in the new electoral law which presumably would be drafted after drafting the new constitution which will determine the shape of Yemen’s future state and accordingly the nature of the new electoral law and how to define the motivational circuits for women in the parliamentarian and local elections.

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The opinions of the participants in the focus groups were as follows:

1. Women’s Citizenship in the Constitution:

• Some of the participants agreed that the identity of the state emerged through the changes that occurred on the articles of citizenship in the constitution which for example had clearly socialist features in article (36) in the 1978 constitution and later a theocratic feature in articles (31 and (41) from the 1994 constitution.
• The majority agreed that article (27) from the 1991 constitution is the most compromising and moderate and there were suggestions to make article (27) a preface to article (36) from the 1978 constitution so that they merge in the new constitution. On the other hand some viewed article (27) as sufficient to address citizenship and that article (36) of the 1978 constitution includes important details that should be included as a law and not in the constitution.
• Someone suggested the replacing the word “provides” by the word “contributes” regarding the states commitment towards women and families in article (36) of the 1978 constitution since the state is no longer the socialist type.
• It was noted how the groups were focused in how to balance between article (27) from the 1991 constitution and article (36) from the 1978 constitution, yet all groups agreed on the importance of these two articles and preferring them over the two existing articles in the 1994 constitution.

2. Women’s political participation in the constitution:

• Most of the groups agreed on the importance of including a quota for the percentage of women’s representation, yet there was disagreement determining that percentage. Some suggested the clear quota of a minimum of 30%, in the 3 main branches, which is in article (4) of the current constitution. While others suggested leaving it open so as no to limit women to this percentage who might in the long term be prohibited from attaining a higher percentage in the future.
• A long discussion revolved around the importance of implementing the quota system in a way to guarantee the selection upon merit and not just the numerical representation.

• Most of the groups agreed on the importance of determining the kind of proportional list and the necessity of determining the different type of systems for the proportional list.

• Some considered adding the feminine pronoun in article (107) in relation to the condition of presidency might not be in favor of women considering that this amendment might provoke the extreme political Islamic forces to demand a clear text which prohibits women from assuming a presidency role, while others that adding it to the language of the constitution might encourage society to accept the political participation of women in all aspects.

3. The obstacles of drafting a new constitution that guarantees women’s citizenship and their right in political participation:

• The absence of an effective women’s movement with a public base that supports and demands these amendments.
• The absence of solid political forces in the face of tribal and extreme political Islamic forces.
• The parties’ holding departments for women marginalizes the role of women in parties and excludes women from decision making within or outside their parties.

The event ended with SupportYemen team committing to sending the outcome of the discussion to all the participants, keeping the door open for discussion in it’s Facebook page and supplying it with material related to the subject. It is worth noting that the participants who joined the discussion electronically are approximately 150.

Download Documents:

ملخص جلسة النقاش الخاصة بمواطنة النساء
بلاغ صحافي-إصدار ملخص جلسات النقاش الخاصة بمواطنة النساء

المادة التوضيحية لمناقشة مواطنة النساء ومشاركتهن السياسية في الدستور اليمني

Thank You Taiz

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When it comes to Taiz, what am I supposed to do? What can I write? Shall I write true stories of those torn apart and emotionally distraught mothers who lost their sons, husbands or even their daughters? Or shall I write about the suffering of this great City that was bullied by one of the wanted criminal in Yemen? Or shall I write of how beautiful this country was or about the struggles of this City? Whatever I write it is never enough to show the horrific scenes this city is faced with and never enough to show how this city made a difference in Yemen.
We Yemenis say Thank you Taiz, Thank you for starting something that should have been started many years ago. Thank you for standing against corruption, Thank you for your struggles to give Yemen Freedom, Thank you for the heroes you have lost for the sake of a better a better Yemen. Thank you simply for being who you are and remaining strong and brave. Of course Thank you is still not enough but it’s the least we can say to this city and the people of this City.

Taiz is Yemen’s third largest city and the Heart city of Yemen’s peaceful Revolution 2011. The peaceful Revolution started from Taiz where the response to it wasn’t very nice since the start of the Revolution. Since it was the first city that came out demanding for freedom and basic rights, the corrupt regime of the Ex-president Ali Abdullah Saleh did not answer back peaceful, like it should be. But since the start of the Revolution that City has been harshly bullied by this regime. This is the city that stood strong while being attacked nearly on a daily bases, this is the most suffered city from this Regime during this peaceful Revolution. This is the city that was massacred on May 26, 2011. That day the freedom Square of Taiz was attacked, the tents in the sit-in area was set on fire, which burnt the whole tents, Many people died, some people on wheel chairs couldn’t run for their life, they were burnt alive and there was many injures. That day, to many Yemenis especially from the city of Taiz who witnessed the scene can never forget that day.

From this city, the first woman was killed by this regime, Azizah Othman from Taiz, the first Yemeni women to be killed by the current regime and many more women followed her.

Taiz the city that had the most lost from the beginning of the Revolution, Lost their men, their women and their children. Right up to now this city is still being bullied, on November 23 the GCC deal was signed by Saleh… Right up to now I and many Yemenis don’t know what Saleh agreed on. All I know is that the GCC deal is supposed to be standing with the people of Yemen, but that is not how it is. We haven’t seen any good changes since the GCC deal was signed apart from more violence. What does that tell us? The truth is that this Deal is only there for the favour of Saleh. After the GCC deal was signed, a day after, Taiz was shelled by Saleh’s forces. Wasn’t violence supposed to end now that the GCC deal was signed? This deal did not do anything for Taiz that has been suffering from this Regime for now crossing 10 months and neither did it do anything for the rest of the country. Right up until now as I am writing this Taiz is still being attacked the most.

Taiz did not only become the heart city of the peaceful revolution but also the bleeding heart of Yemen. My pain for Taiz is too deep to the point where I can’t cry anymore, I can’t cry for those women that are being killed one after another, or for the children of that are being killed before they have reached their teenage years. I want to cry to bring me back to reality but what’s the point, what are my tears going to do? I want to scream ‘Help Taiz’ but who is there to hear the cries of Taiz or to see the blood of Taiz?

We won’t forget you Taiz, like it’s usually said where every story begins; it’s where every story ends. Saleh and his regime won’t end you or our Revolution; you are the city that is keeping our Revolution alive.

 Written by: Najla Mo