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Of ambition, opportunity and pretence: the politics of gender in Yemen

Al-Sakkaf, N. (2019) Of ambition, opportunity and pretence: the politics of gender in Yemen. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Yemen has continuously been one of the worst places worldwide in terms of women’s rights in education, health, and the economy, according to international development indicators. It is puzzling that this is the country’s reality despite the fact that during the last two decades, Yemen witnessed a surge of high-level appointments of women in key decision-making positions, the creation of several women-related national institutions, and the implementation of various women’s empowerment policies. This research attempts to address this puzzle by investigating the failure of women’s empowerment policies in Yemen between 2006 and 2014 in health, education, and the economy, from the perspectives of the women leaders themselves, who are at the forefront of the women’s empowerment efforts in the country. To demonstrate their failure, I first review the state’s gender policies, using policy mapping, to identify trends and measure their success drawing on existing policy evaluation approaches. Next, I present empirical findings collected through a mixed-method approach, which notably include descriptive-statistical analysis of surveys and qualitative examination of elite interviews. This research investigates feedback from leading Yemeni women, who are the main drivers behind gender equality in Yemen, and who were directly involved in women’s empowerment efforts in the researched time frame. Using women’s empowerment’s agency-structure framework, I investigate the relevance of: lack of capacity of women leaders, political and economic instability, and the culture of political support, to policy success. I argue that all three factors contributed to the failure of women’s empowerment policies through sub-mechanisms, however, the culture of political support – or lack thereof, had the highest explanatory power of the three factors. This research departs from existing scholarly work on Yemeni women’s empowerment in that it focuses on the experiences of the women leaders as champions of the empowerment agenda, while also acknowledging the importance of the socio-political context in which they operated. This research provides gender policy makers with insights into the practical implications of gender policies in conservative societies such as Yemen, by addressing sustainability and impact of women’s empowerment efforts.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Binder, M. and Hellmich, C.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Politics, Economics & International Relations
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Science > School of Politics, Economics and International Relations
ID Code:89042

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