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