Stories of the everyday life for women in Yemen

Fatima Albeedh, The Country Office in Sanaa, Yemen 
January 4th, 2024

Women in Yemen experience a dual reality. Urban women have seen progress and increased influence, particularly in education and careers. However, rural women face significant challenges, lacking access to essential resources, healthcare, and education, perpetuating a cycle of poverty.  

Urban areas have witnessed improvements in female education, with higher enrollment rates and increased literacy. This educational empowerment has led to greater career opportunities and participation in decision-making processes. 

Despite progress, challenges persist. Gender-based discrimination, cultural barriers, and post-2015 war effects hinder women, especially in rural areas. Many face displacement, limited resources, and vulnerability to violence. An estimated 7 million women (about twice the population of Oklahoma) and girls in Yemen require humanitarian aid, reflecting ongoing hardships. 

While women have excelled in fields traditionally dominated by men, such as business and medicine, there’s a poignant contrast for those in rural areas, where dreams are modest but resilient. 

Yusra’s Dream: Struggling for Independence in the Face of Adversity 

Yusra’s tragic story speaks to the struggles that many women in Yemen face. At 35, she was widowed, childless. She was forced to live with her brother, his wife, their 10 children, and their mother in a small house in Al Theraa’ village within the Hajjah Governorate which is situated around 120 km from the capital Sanaa. The poverty within this family couldn’t help her achieve or even move forward in life after the death of her husband. 

She felt that she was a heavy burden on her brother and his family because his brother is a journeyman, who cannot find a job easily and continuously, so he accepted working at very low wages to handle his family expenses. She felt guilty and helpless knowing that her need for help only added to the burden. She was desperate to find a way to help them out financially without adding to the burden on her brother. 

Despite her hardships, Yusra dreams of a better future in which she can control her destiny. She dreams of a world where she can get an education and be financially independent, and she hopes to become a role model for other women in her community. Yusra believes that a better future is possible with the right support and resources, and she is determined to make her dream a reality. 

Hope Amidst Hardship: Asia’s Struggle for Water in Yemen, Al-Musaymir District 

Asia, a resident of Habeel Hanash, endured 50 years of hardship, exacerbated by water scarcity due to the ongoing conflict in Yemen. The Al-Musaymir district in Lahj governorate, South Yemen, situated around 265 km from the capital Sanaa, faced oppressive heat, treacherous terrain, and resource depletion. Water scarcity, intensified by the conflict, became a relentless threat, leaving inhabitants like Asia in dire straits.

For decades, Asia endured grueling journeys to dry boreholes, waiting 7-9 hours for a mere two or three liters of water. Tragedy struck when her close friend lost her life to a merciless borehole, highlighting the perilous conditions. Despite the heartbreak, Asia persisted in nightly journeys to secure water for her children, navigating the unbearable distance. “Imagine watching a beloved friend die in front of your eyes while the mere thing you can do is nothing. Last year, while chasing the reviving tiny amount of water, my dear friend lost her pure soul and died when she fell in a merciless borehole.” Asia’s voice trembles with pain and despair. 

Asia’s story reflects the enduring struggles of women in Yemen, fighting for survival each day. Despite her tribulations, she clings to hope for a better future. Dreaming of a day when her children access clean water effortlessly, Asia envisions a solution that can bring a better life to Yemen’s people. Her dream encompasses a future free from the suffering imposed by the conflict, fostering a peaceful existence for all.

Warda’s Hope: A Mother’s Struggle Against Poverty 

In the heart of Almahweet governorate in North Yemen, Warda faces a daily battle to provide for her family. Despite growing up in a middle-income family in a small village, her lack of education has trapped her in a cycle of poverty. At 44, Warda is left to care for her nine children with no income, while her husband struggles to make ends meet. 

As she becomes pregnant with her tenth child, Warda’s desperation intensifies. The inability to afford proper nutrition and medical care leaves her malnourished, and unable to care for herself or her unborn child. Tragically, her dream of a better future shatters when her child dies, pushing Warda deeper into despair.

Warda, a woman of strength and courage, is trapped in a heartbreaking situation. She dreams of a day when her children can escape the clutches of poverty and despair. Her yearning for a future free from the fear of losing a child due to lack of resources is palpable. Despite her grim circumstances, Warda holds onto hope, envisioning a brighter tomorrow where she can break the chains of poverty and provide her family with the life they deserve. 

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