Providing hope and support for Yemeni women as conflict drags on

UN Development Programme
5 min readMar 6, 2020
A single mother of two, Samiah was forced to flee her home when conflict broke out in the western port city of Hodeidah. She left her job and her home in search of a more stable life.

As the world celebrates International Women’s Day where women around the world continue to fight for equality, Yemen sits at the bottom of both the Gender Inequality and the World Economic Forum Gender Gap indices. In 2017 Yemen was listed as the world’s worst place to be a woman.

Inequalities have long been recognized as barriers for Yemeni women and girls, but for nearly half a decade, Yemen has been in violent conflict that has exacerbated their situation. They are now forced to shoulder the burden of displacement, starvation, broken education systems, job scarcity, economic insecurity and little or no water, electricity and sanitation. And they are often excluded from any decision-making processes within their communities and left without a voice or representation.

More vulnerable to violence and deprivation

Massive internal displacement has left them more vulnerable to violence and deprivation. They make up more than half the 3.5 million who are now constantly on the move in search of safety and shelter. More than a quarter of them are under 18.

A single mother of two, Samiah was forced to flee her home when conflict broke out in the western port city of Hodeidah. For the first time, and against her will, her small family was on their own, without a support system. “I want the war to be over. I want to be able to live safely with my children,” she says tearfully.

Women are now forced to shoulder the burden of displacement, starvation, broken education systems, job scarcity, economic insecurity and little or no water, electricity and sanitation.

Most Yemenis want the same things as Samiah — a different future for themselves and their families, one that is safe, secure and just.

“We went to bed hungry many nights; there wasn’t enough food to eat. There were times I told my children I wasn’t hungry so that whatever food I put on the table would be enough for them,” Samiah says.

Before the conflict Samiah’s family had for generations fished the sea, enabling them to feed themselves, as well as run a small market stall. But “Everything changed after the war broke out. Conflict was everywhere — there was no place that was safe, including the sea. My family was unable to fish, we…

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