On Monday 18 March 2019, the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Yemen, the International Rescue Committee, Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Women, Peace and Security co-hosted the event “Paying the Price: women and girls in Yemen’s war”. The event marked the fourth year of the conflict in Yemen and focused on the unique impact of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen on women and girls. The conflict in Yemen has exacerbated pre-existing gender inequalities, further eroding women and girls’ rights, exacerbating gendered vulnerabilities and increasing gender-based violence. This has impacted directly on women’s ability to participate safely and equally in public life and has prevented women and girls from the safe enjoyment of their rights. The event was chaired by Baroness Hodgson of Abinger CBE, Co-Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Women, Peace and Security. The Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Yemen, provided opening remarks.
The meeting heard from: the Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister for International Development and Minister for the Middle East at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office; Ciarán Donnelly, Senior Vice President for International Programmes at the International Rescue Committee; Marwa Baabbad, Yemen Project Manager for the Strategic Peacebuilding Programme at the Oxford Research Group; and Dalia Qasim, Founder of the Hodeidah Girls Foundation.
Minister Burt outlined the ways in which the UK government is supporting women’s participation in the Yemen peace process, for example through the inclusion of a Gender Advisor role in the UN Special Envoy’s office and through funding to UNHRC, the International Organisation for Migration and UNICEF. Ciarán Donnelly highlighted the disproportionate impact of the war in Yemen on women and girls and called for the humanitarian community to mainstream gender-sensitivity as well as targeted funding to address gender-based violence. The International Rescue Committee has published a report – Protection, Participation and Potential: Women and Girls in Yemen’s War – on the importance of a gender-transformative agenda for Yemen, including recommendations for all humanitarian actors to prioritise the needs of women and girls in Yemen’s conflict and the meaningful participation of women and women-led organisations in peace talks.
Dalia Qasim shared a first-hand testimony on the gendered impact of the conflict on civilians and reminded attendees of the leading role that Yemeni women play in the delivery of humanitarian services and in conflict resolution. Marwa Baabbad spoke on the frustrating lack of representation of Yemeni women peacebuilders in the media and in formal processes, despite all the work that they do on the ground, and on the importance of long-term, flexible funding to grassroots civil society organisations in Yemen.