Increasing role of women in political parties
Mohammed Muftah, head of the political Zaidi Shi’ite Al-Omma party, formed in early January, said that “in the party, we follow the principles of efficiency and integrity, appointing positions and giving duties to members, whether men or women. We hope to find qualified women, and when we do, we will give them all their rights.”
Amaal Al-Thawr, head of the Arab Spring Party, the first party in Yemen formed and headed by a woman, said that their party is composed of young men, women and independent youth in change squares throughout Yemen.
“Women and men cooperated to establish the party,” Al-Thawr said. “There is the highest proportion of women from any party, which is 15 percent, and I hope it will increase in the future.
“The party is still new, but we are qualifying ourselves to be able to reach positions in the Yemeni parliament and ministries,” she added.
Dr. Abdu Ghaleb Al-Odaini, spokesman of the Joint Meeting Parties, said nobody so far judge political parties and women’s situation within these parties.
“I think some political parties, such as the Justice and Development Party, will be able to support women because they have positive ideas,” Al-Odaini said. “Currently, Yemeni women have vital positions, participating in different sides in their parties because they are ambitious. They aren’t as marginalized as they used to be in the past.”
Mohammed Taha Ana’am, a member of the Yemeni Rashad Union, the first Yemeni Salafi party, said, “The party is still in its nascent stages and I expect women to be present in the party in the future. To date, there isn’t a specific number for the seats of women in the party, but we will discuss that in the future.
“The Yemeni Rashad Union was established to take part in Yemeni politics, particularly after the Arab Spring in Yemen, which paved the way for political and cultural amelioration,” he added.
Moneer Al-Bashiri, press secretary of the Al-Ahrar Organization, a political party composed of 60 members of parliament as well as others, said that the organization emerged after the revolution in response to demands for change and the construction of a civil state.
Al-Bashiri said women’s participation is a key aim of the organization. So far, 60 percent of the organization is comprised of women.
“We are supporting a quarter of the women in the organization to be among candidates for Yemen’s presidential elections, as well as parliamentary and local council membership,” Al-Bashiri said. “So far, Ibtisam Al-Hamdi, niece of former Yemeni president Ibraheem Al-Hamdi, is the only woman who has stepped forward to compete in the presidential elections.”
Abdulaziz Jubari, spokesman of the Justice and Development Party, said the party is composed of a well-known cadre with national and partisan achievements, including “members who resigned from the People’s General Congress to support the revolution.”
Talking about women’s roles in the party, Jubari said, “We are the only party that doesn’t have a special section for women because we don’t want to differentiate between the sexes.”
“We have no problem in women’s participation,” Jubari continued. “Moreover, we don’t measure their presence in the party with a particular rate because it means that we are undermining their role. We believe that women must be given equal opportunities, provided that they are qualified enough. They have the right to be in higher positions even if women’s rate of participation is 50 percent.
“We don’t want to exaggerate because we are in the beginning stages,” he added. “Many opportunities will be given to women in the party in the future.”
Awsan Mohammed Aqlan, head of the Free Yemen political party, formed after last year’s uprising, said that “women enjoy an essential role in the party and we intend to increase the number of women in the party to be equal to men. We have 27 administrative positions and gave 15 of them to women.”
Aqlan said the party holds many activities for women, including courses to enforce their political action, decision-making and conducting research to care for women.
Abdusalam Mohammed, a political analyst and head of the Abaad Research and Studies Center, said women are given their full rights neither in old political parties nor in new ones.
“Parties are exaggerating their support for women,” Mohammed said. “If there are real opportunities for women in the upcoming phase, they will be able to be heads of parties and members of central committees.
“For me, these alleged ‘new youth parties’ talk about democracy and their priorities while they aim to weaken the youth and their religious beliefs,” he said. “They direct their agenda to the government and not to the youth.”