Women Outside the Shadow - Part I

Photo via Boise Weekly

I recently stumbled on amazing piece of work by Ghaida Mutahar on Yemeni women during the revolution of 2011 (to read the Arabic version Click here). Mutahar called her paper "Women Outside the Shadow" and in it she presented to the world a group of pioneering women who are barely recognized for their activism and who remain unknown to the Yemeni populace. 
This work glorifies the role of 16 women as nonconformist political actors. The objective is to provide these women with a voice in the world, so we do not forget the capacity and achievements of Yemeni women during political turmoil. Mutahar is providing testimony so women are not forgotten again like they were in the struggle against the British colonizers and the Northern Imamate. 

In an attempt to honor these women, I will provide a brief summary of eight women today and the following eight tomorrow.  

1) Ghada Al 'Absi: She graduated in 2003 and attempted to pursue a higher degree in journalism; however she could not afford it. Ghada demanded an improvement in the quality of life and hopes that things change before she retires. On several occasions, she donated blood and other goods to Yemenis during the revolution and wrote various articles addressing the revolutionary youth. Ghada was accused by Islah members of being a spy and was detained in a tent. She hopes that that Yemen becomes a civil state; a nation that respects human rights without differentiating between individuals based on religion, ethnic background, or political ideology. 

2) Samar Al Jahmi: Samar's entire experience can be summarized as that of a victim of a very corrupt government. In 2003, Samar's cousin was killed by her husband who avoided imprisonment by bribing the judges. Prior to that, in 1994, her father (who was an immigrant) lost  a home he purchased in Al-Asbahi when the housing program was given to other individuals. Although Samar lives in Saudi Arabia, she helped the revolution by participating on websites and forums. Ofcourse, her dream is to improve Yemeni law in the future.

3) Sarah Al-Maqtari: Sarah is a radio host on FMShabab (FM Youth) and is the epitome of a nationalist. She feels betrayed by the government that failed to provide services to its humiliated population. Furthermore, Sarah was active on twitter, reporting to the world what happened on ground during the Yemeni revolution. She fears that the revolution maybe hijacked in the future by other groups who do not care about the future of the youth. 

4) Shatha Al-Harazi: Shatha reports a story of meeting the former Yemeni president, Saleh, and asking him to "leave" infront of his face. She is a reporter that worked with Yemen Times. Shatha portrayed the revolution as a humanist movement. During her life, Shatha lived under a dictatorship (Saudi), a democracy (UK), and a false democracy (Egypt) and she believes that she has the right to change the world that she lives in. She hopes to live in a world where individuals within a political system are not treated like divine beings. (FYI: Shatha Al-Harazi is one of the recipients of the Vital Voices Global Leadership Award for 2012). 

5) Manal Al-Hammadi: Manal, a mother and an employee at the Global Fund against AIDS, has been a life long opposer of Saleh's regime. She has actively participated in the protests and engaged in dialogues with various groups. Manal fears that after the revolution unqualified personalities would rise to power. One of her biggest concerns is the economic recovery and the rebuilding of the Yemeni infrastructure. 

6) Ashwaq Al-Rabi'ey: Ashwaq is an administrative employee and a translator. She presented the news to the world in the English language and helped educate protestors about the use of social media during protests. She fears that political parties in Yemen would alter the objectives of the revolution and is proud that Yemeni population finally acquired the self-confidence need to demand a better life. She wishes reform in order to combat corruption. 

7) Basma Abdulfatah: Basma is a PhD. student who opposed Saleh's government due to its militaristic style. She argues that there was too much power in the hands of certain individuals. Basma helped take photographs of the protestors and is very optimistic about the future of Yemen; due to the revolution's cooperative ambience. 

8) Nadia Mor'ai: Nadia is a poet, journalist, and teaching assistant. She supported the revolution because it provided a peaceful exist to all the corruption and a hope for a new democratic beginning. Nadia participated in the protests, continuously updated her facebook, marched with women in opposition and recited poetry that she wrote on the revolution of 2011.