Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Unfiltered Voices of Yemeni Women

Every day the world tunes in to hear what the media has to say about the situation in Yemen, but they do not hear the voices of Yemeni women. Here are some Yemeni women who have expressed their views towards what is going in their country. They don’t agree on the threat that al-Qaeda poses to Yemenis, the causes of the deteriorated state of security, or possible solutions; rather, they represent a cross-section of viewpoints from their unique position at the eye of the storm.
Fahmia al-Fotih'

“First of all, I feel very agitated at the presence of such group in what was once described as a “Felix” (i.e., happy or fortunate) land. I can never rationalize the idea of targeting innocent people just for the sake of making a political statement. As much as I abhor terrorist acts and the people involved in planning and carrying them out, a part of me feels great pity for the susceptible desperate young people who find no other channel of self-fulfillment. It saddens me that our country fails to meet the needs of these groups, allowing them to become easy preys for terrorist recruiters. And as a Yemeni woman, I hate to see how we women are not doing enough to mobilize our influence in the family and the unique ability we can have in preempting, detecting, and countering extremist tendencies among our male relatives and loved ones.”
Amal. Al-Ashtal

“We all are against al-Qaeda, the terrorist organization, because it does not represent Islam. On the contrary, it tarnishes the image of Islam worldwide.”

“Al-Qaeda is a threat for the whole public and in turn it has its negative impact on Yemeni women. A number of women were among the victims due the recent raids on terrorists in Abyan for example. Women also suffer when one of her family members is a victim. Women bear a huge burden in the war against al-Qaeda and pay a huge price within the deteriorated economic situation in Yemen. Women are vulnerable, especially those who are not economically independent.”
Wadad al Badawei, female journalist

“All Yemenis are against al-Qaeda and their terrorist acts as they are hindering development, peace, and stability.”

“I think what we are really facing these days is the exaggerated image reflected by the Western media on terrorism in Yemen. Despite there may be some terrorists’ groups settling in Yemen; we as Yemenis are not facing any real threats in our country.”
Raghda Gamal, 24, Journalist

“Terrorism has never been part of Yemeni culture but it comes out due to a number of reasons like poverty, lacking of freedoms, the call-for-violence, religious rhetoric, and the Wahhabism influence coming from neighboring countries. It is really sad and a shame to see Yemenis subject to strict checks at airports. Yemen has been always a harbor for a number of religions, ethnicities and cultures.”
Huda Jafar, NGO employee

“Believe me, it is all about complicated global politics… terrorists are everywhere… and suddenly the spotlight was turned on Yemen after this failed airline attack… I was not convinced about the whole story and the exaggerated consequences.”

“Yemen is sadly a silent victim to terrorism. I personally think that the stereotypical views are just the cherries on top of all our problems. We need to nip this issue in the bud! A filter of some sort needs to be created, one that holds strong between the recruiters and the innocent youth.”
Haifa, 25, student

“Al-Qaeda is not a Yemeni thing. It is there in every country and their members are from a number of nationalities.”
Najwa, Student

“It is getting serious no matter what we believe in or what we say. They really believe we are dangerous and terrorists, and it needs all our work to change that false image and not to ignore it.”
A.M., MA Student

What do you think? Women without Borders (Frauen Ohne Grenzen) welcomes your feedback on Yemen, the global threat of violent extremism, media and terrorism, or whatever else is on your mind!


  1. The one-sided comments stated within lines of your article is too limited. From my point of view, the issue that has been dealt by you is positive one, but some major points seem to be missing. Only comments are taken. I’m not here a criticizer or fault finder. The point is that there should be a organized systematic and logic dealing of the subject.
    Women being interviewed seems do not have a proven track record in Yemen’s history or could at least play a major role, except superficial information/comments/ideas are given to fulfill the white blank paper.
    In any case or the other, I totally agree with you that such attack for innocent people is heart-breaking incident which is unforgivable. Our state has of course done a big mistake. But the nature of our country has become a safe haven for intruders and terrorist acts due to mountainous structure, remote areas lack of basic infrastructure, illiteracy, poverty and other factors that threatened the stability of the state and could lead the country to the threshold of devastation.
    Terrorist victims are not restricted only to women but also the aged, children, men and women are involved in this.
    But believe me, you are in Yemen. Just highlight the word (Yemen). Women are given a little opportunity if compared to any other countries. Above all, it seems to be moving at a snail’s pace and too much time span is needed for this purpose. You know well, social structure of Yemenis in general and women in particular is another reason that hinders women’s progress/empowerment for the better. I don’t mean here that women in Yemen are not given chance in development of state. But only few or lucky ones do exist.
    Comments posted here are arguable and not dealt in details for the whole article. I do hope to accept me as a guest to your website.

    Ghazy Al-Yousefi,

  2. Ghazy,

    We welcome your comments and we would love to hear more from you. Would you mind sending us some contact information so that we could get in touch with you? You can email either office@women-without-borders.org or kgpwiseman@gmail.com. Thank you for visiting our blog, and we look forward to talking with you!

    Kate from Women without Borders

  3. I spent 2 months in Ta'iz Yemen teaching at a learning center. The people I encountered were all very kind and from what I gathered, nobody agrees at all with what terrorists are doing. Granted, there is terrorist activity in Yemen, but this cannot be made the thing that defines the people of this beautiful country. The positive aspects of a place or culture will always outweigh the bad. The problem is that nobody educates themselves on these things, only focusing on the bad. It's called Pessimistic and it's the news and the media.


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