Yemeni women must be part of Geneva talks

Posted on: September 4, 2018, by :

Yemeni civil society organization the Sisters Arab Forum for Human Rights (SAF) has underlined the need for women to play a meaningful role in the upcoming talks in Geneva. UN-brokered talks including the warring parties in Yemen will start on 6 September, but so far no women have been named in the delegations.

Women fought hard to participate Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference between 2013-2014, which ultimately endorsed a 30 percent quota for women in government. The outcomes of the National Dialogue – including the quota – were subsequently echoed by UN Security Council Resolution 2216.

The 30 percent quota was hard won by Yemeni women, it must be respected by all parties at the Geneva talks.

There are further problems with inclusivity at the talks, with a number of political parties also absent. This process must be inclusive if it is to succeed.

An international war requires international pressure

While it will take all of Yemen to build peace in the country, the means to end the war are not simply in the hands of Yemenis. The conflict has long been a proxy war. The Iranians, the Saudis and their coalition will need to be part of the process to end the conflict. A military solution to the conflict will mean ever more suffering for the people of Yemen, finding a political solution will require international pressure on all parties involved.

SAF have also identified a number of urgent priorities for the talks to address.

Hodeida

With the majority of Yemen’s populated areas currently under Houthi control, the port of Hodeida has huge strategic importance. Something like 80% of the North’s supplies come through Hodeida, and the Houthis have refused to surrender control of the port to government forces. The conflict has already brought humanitarian and economic catastrophe to Yemen, the dilemma over Hodeida must be solved at the negotiating table to ensure that the crisis facing the civilian population is not worsened.

The growth of militias

Armed groups and militias are a mushrooming problem, particularly in Yemen’s South. The security situation has deteriorated dramatically, with an increase in assassinations, detention and torture of civilians. Activists, journalists and those documenting the violence have been particularly vulnerable to attack. Militias are especially a problem in government-controlled areas. There is an urgent need to prevent prevent lawless violence.

Prisoners

The UN expert group reported widespread use of detentions, disappearances, torture, ill treatment by government and coalition-backed forces, and Houthis. Militias and extremist groups have also kidnapped and detained many more. The return of all prisoners must be on the table.