Faces from Yemen's Revolution: Mothers in kitchens support Yemen’s revolution
“The cardboard is my cooking gas, and my fan too. The regime switched off the power and made the gas disappear, thinking that this would change our minds about the revolution. But in fact, no: this just makes us more resistant,” Mohamed said.
When Yemen’s uprising began last February, her son, a 2nd year university student studying economics at the University of Hodeida, was among 50 people who initially set up the anti-government protest camp in Hodeida, remaining up to now one of the leading activists at the square.
Despite her fear that her son could be killed by pro-government thugs or security forces during marches against the regime, she still prepares cakes and other homemade foods for her son and his colleagues at Freedom Square in Hodeida. He has been camping there for about eight months.
Mulook, who lives in an underdeveloped and remote area of Hodeida, found peaceful revolution to be the real solution for the oppression she has encountered in her life. She has lived under the Local Council Authority, whose members are mostly influential tribal leaders loyal to Saleh’s regime.
“I stood with this revolution because of the repression and injustice in my area,” she said. “I had to be silent otherwise, they would hurt me more. I couldn’t speak my mind about wrongdoings, or they would intimidate me.”
However, her loyalty to the revolution has made her vulnerable to harmful rumors by Saleh supporters. Rumors were spread that she had held a party to celebrate the assassination attempt made against Saleh early last June.
“They [Saleh’s supporters] kept spreading rumors about me in an effort to bend my position, but I say to them that this is our chance to retrieve our dignity,” she said.
“They also accused me of participating with men in protests, whereas in fact I have never attended any protest, neither with men nor with women,” she added.
Her son, who camps out at Change Square, withstood a kidnapping attempt by National Security Police last April while traveling from college to Hodeida’s Freedom Square.
“They have been scaring my mum, for I might lose my life in the protest. A group of pro-Saleh women visited her at home and told her ‘your son is going to be killed, so why don’t you just call him to come back home and stop protesting’.” She replied: “I have four sons and If he is killed, I will send the others to protest,” relayed her son in a telephone call with the Yemen Times.
“Her strong words really affected me. It showed that she is aware of the revolution’s goals.” He added: “We want to live with dignity or die.”
Women protect Change Square, Sana’a
The roles of Yemeni women have not been confined to cooking and supporting protesters from home. They have also been involved in protecting Change Square by volunteering at checkpoints to frisk incoming female visitors or participants for weapons as they enter the protest camp.
Lutfya Ghalab, a female protest activist, told the Yemen Times that since the uprising broke out and the youth set up their tents last February, she and 80 other female volunteers have been guarding the 40 entrances that lead to Sana’a’s Change Square.
“We are securing the square from any potential threats. Women as well as men were offering assistance to injured people and patients in Change Square’s field hospital,” Ghalab said.
Ghalab explained that other women volunteer to prepare breakfasts and other quick meals for patients, as well as tea for protesters.
“I think it is a duty for all of us to support the youth revolution and put an end to dictatorship and injustice for a better future for Yemen,” she said.
Huda Abdullah, a leading female activist at Sana’a’s Change Square, told the Yemen Times that “the role of Yemeni women in this revolution is a reflection of their significance throughout Yemen’s history.
“The Yemeni woman is brave, patient, hardworking and sacrifices everything for the sake of the homeland,” Abdullah said.
“I know a mother whose 20-year-son was shot dead two weeks ago while he was marching and demanding the prosecution of president Saleh. When she saw him dead, she just ululated and asked that no-one cry, saying her son had achieved martyrdom.”