The event dedicated to “Yemeni women’s leadership in the peace process, humanitarian space, and beyond” engaged in a constructive discussion with eight Yemeni women experts around their leadership roles in the humanitarian response, the challenges inhibiting their meaningful participation in the peace process across different tracks and the recommendations they proposed.
"The European Union remains extremely concerned about the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Yemen“, said EU Ambassador Walter Stevens, opening the discussion. Women‘s participation is a topic very dear to the EU and the EU High Representative Mogherini, who met with both Yemeni and Syrian women representative of civil society organizations for a high-level dialogue on 'Advancing the role of Women in Peace Processes' in Brussels on 5 of December 2018.
The active participation of Yemeni women to the ongoing political process and their contribution within the humanitarian space are crucial aspects for saving lives and achieving sustainable peace, security, stabilization and development. "This is especially key as women, girls and children are the first victims of this conflict: their voice must be heard loud and clear and supported by us“, said EU Ambassador Stevens.
The German Ambassador Michael Freiherr von Ungern-Steinberg and Dutch Human Rights Ambassador Marriet Schuurmann as co-hosts welcomed the four roundtables with each a different focal point: Women's leadership in the humanitarian process, their leadership in the peace process, the impact of conflict on gender norms, and Yemeni women's leadership in the sustainability of response.
Participants discussed why excluding Yemeni women from decision-making processes leaves the challenges and experiences they face unaddressed and unacknowledged, creating a barrier to sustainable peace, security and stabilization as well as to development. Women’s leadership is indeed a key step in promoting effective and transformative change in humanitarian settings. Their plurality and diversity needs to be acknowledged to ensure a meaningful impact and long-term sustainability of the peace process.
After the individual discussion rounds, UN Under-Secretary General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Marc Lowcock addressed the participants, stressing the importance of listening to the voices of Yemeni women and girls. "We also need to make a much better effort at protecting women and girls, and at providing them with the services they need, for example basic reproductive health services", he added.
Closing the side event, UN Resident Coordinator for Yemen Lise Grande reiterated the main reasons for involving women in the leadership of the peace process and the humanitarian response from a field perspective: "The overwhelming majority of care providers and first responders are women. Women know better what is going on; and women simply do more at the reconciliation and humanitarian level".
In 2018, the European Union allocated €118 million to the Yemen crisis through the European Commission (DG ECHO), with a special focus on women’s needs.
Over the past years, EU humanitarian aid has become increasingly gender-sensitive. Based on the European Consensus on Humanitarian Aid, the European Commission adopted several landmark policies (i.e. gender policy in 2013; gender-age marker in 2014; protection policy in 2016).
From June 2017 to December 2018, the EU also chaired the 'Call to Action on Protection from Gender-Based Violence in Emergencies', a global initiative aiming at driving structural change in the humanitarian system to address gender-based violence.