Promoting economic self-reliance of women in war-torn Yemen

Nov 14, 2016

Participants in vocational training to gain theoretical and practical skills related to plumbing, mobile phone repair, hair dressing, carpentry and painting

In the conflict-affected district of Craiter in Aden City, 160 women between the ages of 18 to 50 completed a UNDP emergency employment programme generating a total of 10,560 work-days. Between July and November 2016, UNDP selected women most in need. The final beneficiaries participated to clear debris and solid waste from streets, schools and public institutions in Craiter, an area that witnessed heavy fighting during 2015.

“I am married and have four children. With the money I earned through the project, I was able to restore parts of my house that were damaged during the war. I really thank UNDP, the people of Japan and Tadhamon Association for this opportunity,” said Najiba, 38 years old.

14 schools, 3 clinics and 13 other government/community premises were cleaned in partnership with Tadhamon Association, a local NGO. Eight tons of waste and debris were collected during the cash-for-work duration. One group of women rehabilitated the National Library of Aden which enabled its reopening and received certificates of appreciation from the Ministry of Culture.

“We knocked at all doors, the government, private sector, local and regional partners, asking for their help to maintain this clinic. No-one was able to respond but UNDP. We are grateful for the real and honest support. The clinic serves about 40,000 citizens in Al-Aidaroos area. The health center opened in 2015 while the war was raging, and when people could not go outside to access hospitals or seek medical attention. Due to the difficult situation, there is no budget and we are paying for the running costs out of our pockets. The women cleaned the clinic and helped us to reopen it, to maintain critical services for the sick and injured,” said Khaled Ezi, General Manager of Al-Aidaroos clinic.

A number of women were able to enroll their children to school as they could now afford the school fees, and two families reported that they stopped their children from working as food can be purchased through the newly earned wages.

“My husband lost his job. We have four children in primary school. The Emergency Employment project helped me a lot, to buy essential items improving our day-to-day. I bought a gas cylinder for the house, before that I used firewood to cook the food. It is the first time for me to buy new school clothes of good quality for my children,” said Najwa, 35 year old from Craiter.

In addition to the cash-for-work providing immediate income to vulnerable women, UNDP invested in developing their skills to encourage sustainable self-employment opportunities. A vocational training was organized during Ramadan linking women with sectors with most market potential. Divided into groups, they gained theoretical and practical skills related to plumbing, mobile phone repair, hair dressing, carpentry and painting.

“With the vocational training and cash-for-work, I was able to buy some tools to open a small hairdressing business. This will help me to provide better income for my family,” said Eshrak.

Yemen remains a conservative country with regard to women participation and rights. It is ranked the lowest on the Gender Gap Index for over a decade. The crisis has opened non-traditional avenues for women to participate more actively in the economic sphere. Many of the 160 project beneficiaries now report being part of the decision-making in the family as they are financially supporting the household.

"Emergency Employment is one of the important projects of UNDP to support women to build resilience and help them and their families to cope with the impact of the ongoing war in Yemen. The project also aims to empower women and to contribute to gender equality", said Auke Lootsma, Country Director of UNDP Yemen.

All participating women received a certificate of completion during a closing ceremony on 12 November, in front of their relatives, local authorities, representatives from UNDP and Al Tadhamon Association. This marks the end of the Japan-funded intervention but also represents, for them, a new beginning towards recovery.

For more information:
Ms Khulood Sheikh, Livelihoods Coordinator in Aden (khulood.sheikh@undp.org),
or Ms Farah Abdessamad, Programme Specialist in Sana’a (farah.abdessamad@undp.org

Related photos during project activities - Aden-Cariter