Yemeni women have been actively engaged in matters of peace, security and governance despite their frequent marginalization and/or exclusion from formal politics and political institutions. Their participation and civic engagement became particularly visible during the National Dialogue Conference (NDC), and this active engagement has continued ever since despite the current war. Yemeni women continue to make critical contributions to peace-making at the local, national and international levels be it evacuating civilians and wounded from conflict-affected areas to negotiating humanitarian access, the opening of roads and crossings or the release and exchange of prisoners to participating in the peace process. These critical engagements by Yemeni women happen on top of the foundational roles they play in ensuring the survival of their families and communities, as well as the various forms of caring work they do as crucial services and infrastructure are eroded or destroyed.
Over successive years, the Office of the Special Envoy has sought to address Yemeni women’s marginalization and exclusion in transitional and peacemaking processes and support Yemeni women’s meaningful participation and the integration of gender analysis and perspectives into the peace process.
The creation of mechanisms for Yemeni women’s inclusion
In 2015, through a collaboration between the Office of the Special Envoy and UNWomen, Tawafaq or the Yemeni Women’s Pact for Peace and Security (Pact) was created as a consultative mechanism. The Pact was directly managed by UNWomen and grew to include some 60 Yemeni women by late 2018. In 2016, the Office of the Special Envoy invited a delegation of seven Yemeni women from the Pact to Kuwait although the women were not directly involved in the negotiations.
In mid-2018, the Yemeni women’s Technical Advisory Group (TAG) was created by the Office of the Special Envoy with the involvement of UNWomen and the Pact. The TAG is comprised of eight Yemeni women. Initially, three women were drawn from the Pact, and the remaining five members were drawn from elsewhere (although today five TAG members are also Pact members). TAG members consist of women with diverse backgrounds ranging from economics to human rights to governance, as well as women with political party affiliation. TAG members are frequently engaged in consultations on particular topics based on their expertise in that particular area.
In September 2018, eight TAG members travelled to the Geneva Consultations on Yemen. Three papers were developed to feed into those consultations, namely on the economy, on politics and on trust building. In December 2018, six TAG members were present in Stockholm for consultations with the parties.