A woman in a shelter for internally displaced persons in Aden, during the filming of a video for the Yemeni Women’s Pact for Peace and Security. Photo: UN Women/Abd Al-Tweel

Introduction to UN Women’s work in Yemen

Yemen, the poorest country in the Arab States region, is experiencing a complex war and humanitarian crisis. According to UN OCHA, over 76% of Yemenis are in need humanitarian assistance. The situation of women and girls in Yemen is very challenging; conflict has added layers of vulnerability for women and girls and exacerbated existing gender inequalities, and in 2017 Yemen was ranked at the bottom of the Gender Gap Index 2017 (144th out of 144 countries). Against this backdrop, UN Women Yemen seeks to address issues of structural gender inequality, and to meet the urgent needs of women and girls. In doing so it implements a variety of projects – from assisting vulnerable women in places of detention to supporting women’s rights actors working for peace.

Going forward, UN Women Yemen will expand its partnerships with all stakeholders including Member States, UN agencies and local and international civil society organizations in cooperation with the relevant authorities. UN Women will continue to seek to expand humanitarian assistance and longer-term recovery and resilience programming in the country in support of gender equity, equality and the empowerment of women and girls.

Key challenges to gender equality and women’s empowerment in Yemen

  • Women’s participation and leadership in the public sphere is low: the 2014 Gender Gap Index rated both women’s economic participation and political empowerment in Yemen at 138 of 142 countries.
  • Yemeni women record low levels of participation in formal paid work.
  • High rates of violence against women and girls are reported, including forced and early marriage.
  • Structural inequalities hinder women’s and girl’s access to basic services, resulting in a dramatic gender gap in literacy and basic education and high maternal mortality rates.
  • Both the formal and informal justice systems discriminate against women in many aspects contrary to Yemen’s commitments to international conventions such as the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

How UN Women is helping girls and women in Yemen

In 2014, UN Women established a presence in Yemen, working in close collaboration with the UN system to provide coordination and normative and programme support to strengthen gender equality and women’s empowerment efforts. UN Women Yemen works with its partners to eliminate discrimination against women and girls, empower women and promote equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security activities. This work aims to achieve three strategic goals:

  • Humanitarian action: Address the needs of vulnerable women and girls to ensure those affected by the crisis can participate in, are empowered by and benefit from response and recovery efforts
  • Gender mainstreaming in humanitarian response: Provide capacity building support to leaders, networks, civil society and UN agencies on gender mainstreaming in humanitarian programming

Women, Peace and Security: Increase women's leadership and inclusion in peace processes and enhance gender in peacebuilding in support of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (UNSCR 1325).