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Yemen: New report on changing attitudes of youth toward gender roles

Human Rights Watch - Thu, 28 Apr 2011 01:19 GMT
Author: Helen Victoria Thompson//Women without Borders
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  By Helen Victoria Thompson Women without Borders 27 April 2011 Yemen’s youth is the driving force behind the protests that are currently calling for regime change and social justice in one of the Arab world’s least developed countries. On the eve of the uprisings in Yemen, Women without Borders conducted a survey to gauge the aspirations, interests and perspectives of the young people who will shape the country’s future. The “Fair Share in Yemen” study, supported by the OPEC Fund for International Development, focuses on students at Sana’a University, comparing their goals and dreams to the realities of life in Yemen. The survey of 599 students takes a special interest in relations between men and women. In 2010, Yemen was last out of 134 countries on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index, indicating that Yemeni women face great challenges to equal economic and political participation and have only limited access to education and healthcare. However, the protests have seen women challenging traditional ideas about gender roles, standing side by side with men and leading the calls for democracy. The Fair Share study shows that Yemen’s youth are positive about gender equality, and the current uprisings may be the opportunity they need to turn these concepts into reality. The Yemeni students surveyed in the Fair Share study are ambitious and adventurous – they want to travel the world, build great careers and have a fulfilling family life. However, they are also deeply concerned about a lack of security, the threat of conflict and the fragility of the economy in Yemen. Pushing for gender equality is seen as an essential component by many to achieve positive change and a better future. Unsurprisingly, Men are more conservative in their outlook on gender roles than women, but 52% of men and 69% of women see changing roles of men and women as a personal opportunity. Equipped with such positive attitudes, a gender just environment is not out of reach. To read the full study, please click here  

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