"I am internally displaced. I am a survivor"In Yemen, a country that has been torn by a 5-year-old conflict, the combination of food insecurity, lack of dignified shelters and legal documentation, has led to poor basic services and the collapse of the country’s economy. This is the stories of four Yemeni women, narrated in their own words.
Today, more than 24 million people in Yemen struggle to access basic services, have substandard living conditions, and most of them must deal with negative coping mechanisms such as child labour, violence, and early marriage.
Despite their various struggles, seventy-two women decided to stand up and challenge themselves to build a better life for their families. As a part of our Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA) funded cash for work activities, these women learned how to use available local materials like straws and palm leaves to improve their shelters by upgrading their walls and roofs and to make sellable baking trays, brooms, hats, hats and colourful baskets.
The project, which was held in five internal displacement sites in Abs, Hajjah, Al Zuhra and Hudayda governorates, helps women contribute to their areas through social cohesion. It also provides them with a sustainable source of income.
Amina, one of the women who received our training, has been displaced many times over several years, moving from site to site, looking for safety for her family.
“I used to be a tailor and could make beautiful clothing and embroidery,” she said. After receiving the training, Amina can finally make enough money to help her eldest son cover their needs.
“I am grateful to be alive and well. I just hope my children will have a better future,” she said. Amina continues to work to give her family the future they deserve.
In another governorate lives Aisha, a 65-year-old woman, who despite her age, continues to learn new skills to take care of her family. Despite losing her home and more than 20 family members to the conflict, Aisha continues to continues to find ways to bring joy to her life. After enrolling in the cash for work programme, Aisha can finally make an income through selling her handmade products.
“I live with my disabled husband and I am the sole breadwinner in the house,” she said. Like many women in displacement areas, Aisha has been struggling to make ends meet:
“I wish this kind of training continues. I know a lot of women who would be grateful to have the means to support their families,” she added.
Despite marrying early and without an education, 20-year-old Adeebah is now helping her husband support their family through selling her handmade products. The cash for work workshop came as a lifeline to Adeebah.
“I stopped going to school after 4th grade when my father married me off,” she said.
After being forced to move multiple times since 2015 due the conflict, Adeebah is finally settled. While Adeebah is now helping her husband, she keeps thinking about how her life would have been like had she stayed in school.
“I often think that if I had completed my education, I would be an aid worker today. I would be helping others, not seeking help,” she added with a pensive look.
Jawhara is volunteering as a community member who represents women in her displacement site.
“I want to provide any help to make women’s lives here better,” she said with a smile. Jawhara is passionate about learning new things.
“I hope I can find a good job and build a better future for my family,” she said. Jawhara dreams of continuing her education and becoming a nurse. Until then, she is happy to be helping her family and community.
Today, 21% of displaced households are headed by women. Amina, Aisha, Adeebah and Jawhara are only four of the women behind the numbers and for every story told, there are millions more waiting to be heard.