Yemen Country Profile
Yemen is the poorest country in the Arab world. Its oil reserves are shrinking, as are Sana'a's water resources, prompting fears it could be the first world capital to run out of water. Southern Yemen, which tried unsuccessfully to break away from the rest of the country in 1994, has an active separatist movement, and there is a long-running Shia insurrection in the far north.
The Yemeni government has little control over rural areas, which are largely under the influence of tribal confederations, sometimes in collaboration with al-Qaeda.
Anti-government protests which began early in 2011 have been fuelled by corruption, unemployment, and government oppression. In March, an emergency law was passed to laregely restrict the right to public assembly. The law has also given the authorities the power to suspend, seize and confiscate ‘all media and means of expression’.
In addition to domestic attacks on tourists between 2007 and 2009, Yemen has been connected to various attempted terrorist attacks abroad. On Christmas Day in 2009, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, who had been trained in Yemen, attempted to blow up a Northwest Airlines flight. Furthermore in October 2010, a plot to detonate a bomb on a cargo plane bound to the US from the UK was narrowly prevented.
Yemeni women lack access to many economic, social, and cultural rights, and face numerous challenges in exercising their full political and civil rights. They are vastly underrepresented in the government and in the workforce, with only 8.2% of women reporting that they are in paid employment. Women also have an extremely low literacy rate (28.2%), and successive amendments to the 1990 unification constitution (which united the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen and the Yemen Arab Republic) have reinforced their secondary status.
However, while tradition restricts their role in the public sphere, women’s role within the family has always been highly valued. This provides the potential for women in Yemen to work within the family towards detecting and preventing the radicalization of their children.
Women are also playing an active role in current protest movements, demonstrating their desire and ability to be involved in their country's politics. Tawakul Karman, director of Women Journalists Without Chains, has become an icon in Yemen’s revolution as she led marches for both men and women since the beginning of the uprisings in the country.