Yemeni women 'can save nation', Nobel laureate Karman

National Dialogue affirmed rights, now laws 'must enshrine them'

19 June, 19:05

    Nobel Pace winner Tawakkul Karman (archive) Nobel Pace winner Tawakkul Karman (archive)

    (ANSAmed)- ROME - The women's rights and will to change that arose during the 2011 uprisings are now being seen in the results of a year of work conducted by the National Dialogue Conference, Nobel prize winner Tawakkol Karman said at a seminar in Rome on Thursday. Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize alongside two Liberian women in 2011.

    ''The time has come for them to be included in the constitution and laws,'' she added. Cooperation between Italy and Yemen in the field of human rights in the new constitution was the focus of the seminar, sponsored by Minerva and Law International with support from the Italian foreign ministry, which took stock of a collaboration project that sent a delegation of scholars, legal experts and institutional and civil society representatives to Sana'a in April. The seminar highlighted the liveliness of political and constitutional debate in a country that often appears in the news only in reports on the violence and terrorist attacks it continues to suffer. The debate included both political and social components of Yemeni society and resulted in January 2014 in a final document for a ''modern civil and federal state'' in which the problems of the past (abuse of power, corruption, etc.) would be replaced by the principles of rule of law, social justice, human rights and sustainable development.

    ''The young men and women who took part in the revolution paid for this achievement with their blood,'' Karman said, a colorful foulard covering her hair, ''but the time has come to include it in the new constitution and the country's laws''. To this end, she added, we must win against the ''fatwas of these men of religion who see everything as wrong'', warning that if the rights affirmed in the national dialogue are not translated into laws, ''we will move backwards''. Many women's rights were affirmed in the conference, including that of having a 30% quota in all institutions, she underscored, as well as ''the struggle against violence and sexual exploitation and the right to join the military and intelligence services''. She noted that women ''are less likely to be corrupt than men'' and were ''leaders in the front lines during the revolution'' against former president Saleh. Karman took on this role herself in 2011, when she was at the head of the group 'Women Journalists Without Chains' and ended up spending time in jail for her political activism. She also chose to stop wearing a full Islamic veil, which is seen as obligatory for many in a country where backwardness and male power are difficult to free oneself from, especially in rural areas. ''We decided to put an end to all this, '' she said, ''and the groups that worked for national dialogue did an excellent job.'' This was in part thanks to collaboration from Italy , she said, adding that there is now the need for ''women able to save Yemen''. (ANSAmed).

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