WILPF Advocacy Documents


Joint Statement for the UPR of Yemen

Human Rights | Sexual and Gender-Based Violence | Women’s Participation
20 November 2013
Document type:
Body submitted to:
Universal Periodic Review
Equality and non-discrimination

Gender inequality is particularly high in Yemen. Yemen ranks 160th out of 186 countries in the Gender Inequality Index and is “the worst” according to Global Gender Gap Report 2012. Many current laws and policies in Yemen, deriving from Shari’a, contain articles that discriminate against women, including personal status law, the penal code, citizenship law and evidence law. The lack of legislative reform, accurate monitoring and availability of data contributes to the continuation of several discriminative practices in Yemen.

Therefore, we suggest the following recommendations for the UPR of Yemen:

  • Reform and repeal of existing laws which discriminate against women and girls and augment gender inequalities, in compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).
  • Enable the availability and accessibility of disaggregated data to ensure effective monitoring of the gender equality in the country for all relevant sectors, including political, social and economic.
Participation to public and political life

The National Dialogue Conference (NDC) brought together different views in Yemen. The NDC is part of the 2011 transition agreement aimed at ending violence in Yemen. The NDC needed to be inclusive and participatory in order to result in a responsive outcome that could contribute to ensure long-standing justice. Despite the given 30% participation of women in the National Dialogue and the important role played by women within the demonstrations toppling down President Saleh, the exclusion of women from public life still persists in Yemen. The percentage of women’s participation was around 28% in the NDC and only 15% in the conciliation committee.

Therefore, we suggest the following recommendations for the UPR of Yemen:

  • Develop policies to advance women participation in all mechanism of governance, justice and peace including a comprehensive and inclusive National Action Plan on Women, Peace and Security.
Right to education and right to health

During Yemen’s UPR review in 2009, recommendations were made on access to basic education and combating illiteracy particularly among rural women. In Yemen, one of the biggest challenges is the access to education, especially for girls. According to UNICEF, nearly half of primary school girls do not go to school and two out of three women in Yemen are illiterate.

The budget allocations to the health sector remain limited. Yemen’s failure to protect and fulfill the right to education and health results in a weak health system that provides limited access to maternal health care and does not correctly address major health problems such as stunting, malnutrition and epidemic diseases especially in the rural and remote areas.

Therefore, we suggest the following recommendation for the UPR of Yemen:

  • Ensure that national policies implemented at different areas including education and health and related legislation are in line with Yemen’s obligations under the CEDAW.
  • Reform the school curricula to regularly emphasize information about gender equality and to ensure that human rights awareness and general information about anti-discrimination is included in the school curricula.
  • Increase budget allocations for the continuous provision and improvement of education and health services.
Violence against women including honour killings

Violations of women’s human rights particularly violence against women are extremely high in Yemen. It is estimated that violence is perpetrated against 50% of Yemeni women. Urgent action is needed to tackle the lack of legislation against domestic and sexual violence towards girls and women, the lack of access to means of protection, including shelters, and the difficulty for women to file complaints for acts of violence committed against them. Women are scared to report human rights violations as it can result in stigmatisation and escalation of violence, including honour killings.

Surveys highlight a high rate of honour killings in Yemen; figures show that there are around 500 honour killings perpetrated per year4. The law only provides for “soft” punishment for the husband who murders or injures his wife having caught her in committing adultery, with only a maximum prison sentence of a year or a fine, as stated in Article 232 of Penal Code. This article violates women’s basic right to life.

Therefore, we suggest the following recommendations for the UPR of Yemen:

  • Provide full range of medical, legal, psychosocial and livelihood services to victims of rape without discrimination and in accordance with international human rights and humanitarian law.
  • Ensure provision of reparation for crimes of sexual violence and protect the privacy and security of women when testifying about sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV).
  • Repeal the Impunity Law promulgated in January 2012 and ensure that no individual is immune from persecution for human rights violations as well as Article 232 of the Penal Code that provides for soft punishment in cases of honor killings.

For more information please refer to the full report submitted by the Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND) and the Human Rights Information and Training Center (HRITC).

To contact ANND: Mrs. Bihter Moschini at bihter.moschini(a)annd.org or visit http://www.annd.org/english/

To contact HRITC: Mr.Ezzadin Saeed Alasbahi at ezzadin4(a)gmail.com or visit www.hritc.org

To contact WILPF: Maria Muñoz Maraver at mmunoz(a)wilpf.ch or visit www.wilpfinternational.org

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Thank you!

Melissa Torres


Prior to being elected Vice-President, Melissa Torres was the WILPF US International Board Member from 2015 to 2018. Melissa joined WILPF in 2011 when she was selected as a Delegate to the Commission on the Status of Women as part of the WILPF US’ Practicum in Advocacy Programme at the United Nations, which she later led. She holds a PhD in Social Work and is a professor and Global Health Scholar at Baylor College of Medicine and research lead at BCM Anti-Human Trafficking Program. Of Mexican descent and a native of the US/Mexico border, Melissa is mostly concerned with the protection of displaced Latinxs in the Americas. Her work includes training, research, and service provision with the American Red Cross, the National Human Trafficking Training and Technical Assistance Centre, and refugee resettlement programs in the U.S. Some of her goals as Vice-President are to highlight intersectionality and increase diversity by fostering inclusive spaces for mentorship and leadership. She also contributes to WILPF’s emerging work on the topic of displacement and migration.

Jamila Afghani


Jamila Afghani is the President of WILPF Afghanistan which she started in 2015. She is also an active member and founder of several organisations including the Noor Educational and Capacity Development Organisation (NECDO). Elected in 2018 as South Asia Regional Representative to WILPF’s International Board, WILPF benefits from Jamila’s work experience in education, migration, gender, including gender-based violence and democratic governance in post-conflict and transitional countries.

Sylvie Jacqueline Ndongmo


Sylvie Jacqueline NDONGMO is a human rights and peace leader with over 27 years experience including ten within WILPF. She has a multi-disciplinary background with a track record of multiple socio-economic development projects implemented to improve policies, practices and peace-oriented actions. Sylvie is the founder of WILPF Cameroon and was the Section’s president until 2022. She co-coordinated the African Working Group before her election as Africa Representative to WILPF’s International Board in 2018. A teacher by profession and an African Union Trainer in peace support operations, Sylvie has extensive experience advocating for the political and social rights of women in Africa and worldwide.

WILPF Afghanistan

In response to the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and its targeted attacks on civil society members, WILPF Afghanistan issued several statements calling on the international community to stand in solidarity with Afghan people and ensure that their rights be upheld, including access to aid. The Section also published 100 Untold Stories of War and Peace, a compilation of true stories that highlight the effects of war and militarisation on the region. 

IPB Congress Barcelona

WILPF Germany (+Young WILPF network), WILPF Spain and MENA Regional Representative

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WILPF uses feminist analysis to argue that militarisation is a counter-productive and ill-conceived response to establishing security in the world. The more society becomes militarised, the more violence and injustice are likely to grow locally and worldwide.

Sixteen states are believed to have supplied weapons to Afghanistan from 2001 to 2020 with the US supplying 74 % of weapons, followed by Russia. Much of this equipment was left behind by the US military and is being used to inflate Taliban’s arsenal. WILPF is calling for better oversight on arms movement, for compensating affected Afghan people and for an end to all militarised systems.

Militarised masculinity

Mobilising men and boys around feminist peace has been one way of deconstructing and redefining masculinities. WILPF shares a feminist analysis on the links between militarism, masculinities, peace and security. We explore opportunities for strengthening activists’ action to build equal partnerships among women and men for gender equality.

WILPF has been working on challenging the prevailing notion of masculinity based on men’s physical and social superiority to, and dominance of, women in Afghanistan. It recognizes that these notions are not representative of all Afghan men, contrary to the publicly prevailing notion.

Feminist peace​

In WILPF’s view, any process towards establishing peace that has not been partly designed by women remains deficient. Beyond bringing perspectives that encapsulate the views of half of the society and unlike the men only designed processes, women’s true and meaningful participation allows the situation to improve.

In Afghanistan, WILPF has been demanding that women occupy the front seats at the negotiating tables. The experience of the past 20 has shown that women’s presence produces more sustainable solutions when they are empowered and enabled to play a role.

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