Yemeni Women's Union

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Oldest women's organization in Yemen.

The Yemeni Women's Union (YWU; Ittihad Nisa al-Yaman) is the oldest women's organization in Yemen, with roots in the preindependence era. The present organization was formed in 1990 by combining the northern and southern branches following the unification of Yemen. In the north, the Yemeni Women's Association (YWA) was established in 1965 with branches in the biggest towns. Without official recognition, the main task of the YWA was to promote literacy and job skills among women. In the south, the General Union of Yemeni Women was formed in 1968 to continue the work of two women's organizations (the Arab Women's Club and the Aden Women's Association) established during the British colonial era. It played a vital role in empowering women and promoting the politics of women's emancipation. Soon after unification, the YWU lost official backing, its funding was minimized, and it faced problems in harmonizing its activities. Whereas the southern branch was dominated by socialists, the Sanaa branch in the north was run by women from the Islah Party. The membership of the united organization is around 4,000. The YWU aims at attaining rights and legitimacy for women, gender equity, and women's advocacy. The union has played an important role in promoting women's increased participation in elections. YWU branches are found today in most governorates, with projects funded by foreign donors. These include microcredit schemes, basic health- care services, and job-skills training for women. The union is an active participant in fighting violence against women, the goal that unites most Yemeni nongovernmental organizations.

see also gender: gender and education; gender: gender and politics;yemen.


Dahlgren, Susanne. "Women in the Republic of Yemen." In The Greenwood Encyclopedia of Women's Issues Worldwide, Volume 4: The Middle East, edited by Bahira Sherif. Westport, CT: Greenwood Publishing, 2003.

susanne dahlgren