Logo SAVE - Sisters against violent extremism

03. November 2009

Yemen Group SAVE © WwB

The SAVE Yemen group

Fahmia al Fotih c WwB

Fahmia al Fotih

Husnia al Kadri c WwB

Husnia al Kadri

Nadia al Saqqaf © FoG

Nadia al Saqqaf

Students at Girls School © WwB

Students of a girls´ school in Sana´a

Yemen - Hope, Action, Perseverance

A Women without Borders SAVE journey to Sana’a

October 26th, 2009-November 2, 2009

Extremism pulls countries apart and creates new divisions between East and West, Muslim and non-Muslim. Terrorism is not about religion, or nationality. It is about human nature which has not been guided properly.”

The SAVE team travelled to Sana’a, Yemen, during the last week of October to gain in-depth information about women and their views on extremism in the country’s urban center and to establish a SAVE Yemen chapter. Despite increasing media coverage that portrays Yemen as a training ground for terrorist activity and as a state on the brink of collapse, Dr. Edit Schlaffer and her team found a vibrant civil society being driven forward by educated and open women.

SAVE brought together a group of engaged women from women’s and human rights’ groups, academic institutions, the press, and international institutions to found SAVE Yemen. Over the course of a series of meetings, the women shared their stories, debated, and brainstormed ideas for a needs-based project that they wanted to undertake as a group. The group agreed to establish regular SAVE meetings and to involve further women and men in their work. They agreed to particularly target mothers as potential alarm-sounders when their children travel down the wrong path.

The SAVE team also presented the SAVE film “Journeys through Darkness” on the occasion of the SAVE press conference hosted by the Media Women’s Forum. The audience felt that their own experiences and the reality of extremism in Yemen were reflected in the film, and underscored the film’s message that violent extremism is independent of religion, nationality, or political affiliation. Both English-language and Arabic media extensively covered the event, highlighting local interest in the role of women in the international security arena.

A number of outstanding women have committed to working with SAVE Yemen, including:

Fahmia Al-Fotih’ is SAVE Yemen’s local coordinator and recently returned to Sana’a from London, where she completed her Master’s Degree in International Relations from the University of Westminster. The recipient of several international scholarships, Fahmia is a strong voice for Yemen’s women and committed to empowering them on both the local and the international level. Fahmia’s experience as both a journalist and a teacher has positioned her as a valuable contributor to SAVE Yemen and SAVE Global.

Husnia Al-Kadri is the director of the Gender-Development Research and Studies Center at Sana’a University. Husnia has contributed to the research and writing of numerous acclaimed studies on a range of issues affecting women in Yemen, including early marriage and domestic violence. Husnia is partnering with SAVE to conduct research on how Yemeni parents experience and recognize their children’s adoption of extremist ideologies. This action oriented, ground breaking research will pave the way for evidence-based involvement of mothers in SAVE´s regional work.

Amal Al-Basha is one of the leading advocates for women’s and human rights in Yemen. As the founder of the independent Sisters Arab Forum, Amal has created a domestic violence hotline and speaks out for women both politically and on the societal level.

Rahma Hugaira is a highly respected female journalist and chairwoman of the Media Women’s Forum. Rahma’s goal is to produce and broadcast media programs that positively affect development and issues of good governance. Vibrant and motivated, Rahma has met Osama bin Laden, had an entire newspaper established to criticize her progressive articles, and travels widely.

Nadia Al-Saqqaf is Yemen’s only female editor of a political newspaper: the "Yemen Times". She continued the family legacy her father left after his early death and who had created one of the leading English-language newspapers in the Gulf region. Nadia’s inquisitive and critical articles highlight issues frequently neglected in government-run media, and she has gained the respect of civil society, the government, and the international media alike.

A number of successful meetings with government ministers, with a forward-thinking girls’ school that serves as a model of holistic education, and with individuals committed to creating change despite the odds have shown that Yemen is hopeful that a peaceful and inclusive community is possible and desirable. Women’s participation is critical to moving forward, and Yemen’s leading female voices must be shared to encourage others to speak up against violent extremism.

The SAVE team looks forward to returning to Sana’a in early 2010 to continue working with the local SAVE Yemen group and to conducting cutting-edge research on families and extremism.


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