Yemen: UN Population Fund stresses women’s needs, amidst world’s worst humanitarian crisis

In 2019, more than 3.5 million people in Yemen received lifesaving emergency packages and reproductive health and protection services through the support of UNFPA. More than 116,000 safe deliveries were facilitated and an estimated 30,000 survivors of gender-based violence received care.  

‘Deprived of a childhood’ 

Among those reached is Hana’a, a displaced woman whose last name has been omitted for her safety and protection. At the request of her parents, Hana’a was married to a wealthy man twice her age, when she was just 15 years old.  

«I was deprived of an education and a childhood,” she explained. “I was taught to be a 40-year-old woman trapped in a 15-year-old’s body.»   

Her husband lost his job when they were displaced and was later imprisoned. To support her family, Hana’a started baking and selling traditional pastries. She now lives with her five children in a single room, where they eat, sleep and bake.  

Business start-up ‘has given me hope’ 

With the help of a UNFPA-supported business start-up programme at a safe space, Hana’a was granted a micro-loan to help her grow her baking business.  

«The programme has given me hope, a fresh start for a new life» Hana’a said. «I am willing to work alone to build a better future for my daughters, a better one than I had.”  

Safe spaces foster a sense of security and solidarity, allowing for the identification and support of survivors of gender-based violence while mobilizing and empowering women such as Hana’a psychosocially and professionally. For survivors of gender-based violence, livelihood and skills training provides an entry point for services, eliminating stigma and facilitating community outreach.  

UNFPA supports 46 women and girls safe spaces across the country, two of which are in Marib and one in Al Jawf. Visits to these spaces have increased by 50 per cent in the past month.   

To reach women and families in need, UNFPA takes a number of customized approaches. In remote villages, mobile teams provide in-home services, including maternal health, family planning services and psychosocial support to women and girls who cannot afford to pay for transportation to hospitals.  

To date, the mobile teams have assisted over 5,500 individuals with reproductive health and protection services in Marib and Al Jawf following increased displacement.  

“As much as food and shelter is essential, what determines women’s life or death in a crisis is their ability to access basic reproductive health and protection services on time,” explained Mr. Owumohangi. “Our greatest success has been in making sure that these unique needs of women and girls have not been overlooked in the world’s largest humanitarian crisis that is happening in Yemen.” 

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