Yemeni women say equal rights are compatible with Islam
Inroads to equality hindered by accusations that feminists are acting ‘un-Islamic’
While many nations in the Middle East were reborn the fire that was known as the “Arab Spring,” tiny Yemen, a desperately poor country still under the yoke of tradition continues to struggle with basic human rights. Most noticeably lacking in Yemen is equality among the sexes, which became apparent when many women took part in popular uprisings in the nation’s capital of Sana’a last year. More women have since come forward to speak out against inequity there.
The main things hindering women’s progress in Yemen according to blogger NoonArabia are such social customs and tribal laws – and not religion. Women in local demonstrations are making a ‘hugestep in breaking the taboo barrier.’
“Yemeni women have proved themselves as partners in the struggle for change,” NoonArabia says.
In spite of this, Isobel Coleman, a Middle East scholar at the Council on Foreign Relations in caution when it comes to expectations about Yemen.
“This is a very traditional society,” Coleman said, adding that Yemen may have to undergo a “wholesale cultural revolution” before it deep-seated change is possible.
“Traditional gender segregation had insinuated itself into the center of the revolt from the Islamic groups who put a fence around them,” Rahma Hugaira, president of Yemen’s Media Women, an opposition group says.
Hugaira says that many women demonstrators felt they were being manipulated by political groups vying for power and decided to leave the square and give up the public demonstrations.