AL-MUKALLA: Five Yemeni policewomen were appointed to key security posts for the first time in the southern Yemeni city of Taiz, sparking excitement among gender equality advocates and the media.
The five were given roles at sites and police stations in the Taiz Security Department as part of a security overhaul that saw the appointment of 12 new security heads, said local officials.
The appointments were intended to empower women in security roles as part of a push to end the disorder and lawlessness that has plagued Taiz for years.
Second Lt. Amera Al-Bukaili, who was recently elevated to the role of deputy director of training for Taiz security, told Arab News that women’s fight for empowerment and senior positions had finally borne fruit.
“I am so delighted today. The appointments have restored a portion of our rights, which is something that should have occurred a long time ago,” she said.
A holder of a master’s degree in social science, Al-Bukaili has almost two decades’ experience in the security field. She was made second lieutenant in 2019, while her male counterparts with similar levels of experience and education were promoted to higher ranks, she added.
“When women hold positions of authority, they will have the capacity to influence and innovate. This is an opportunity to get more rights.”
The appointments have been welcomed by both men and women who have long advocated for the promotion of women to positions of power in the country.
Sara Qassem, a human rights activist from Taiz, characterized the appointments as “special milestones” toward granting women greater rights, urging other Yemeni provinces to follow suit by appointing women to crucial posts.
“We applaud this action, which is in response to efforts to empower women in politics, human rights, security and other areas,” Qassem told Arab News, adding that the move would improve security in Taiz at a time when the city is teetering on the brink of chaos and facing a renewed Houthi siege.
Journalist Zakaria Al-Sharabi agreed, saying that deploying policewomen to key security positions will enable operations in areas that are inaccessible to men due to social barriers. The appointees will also help in combating sexual harassment and other crimes against women, she added.
“Without a doubt, the participation of women in the police force is critical, since many police duties and services, particularly those involving women, children, harassment offenses and juvenile protection need the presence of women,” Zakaria said.
Human rights and gender equality campaigners in Yemen say that women’s rights have been trampled upon and abandoned throughout the country’s civil war, particularly in Houthi-controlled regions, where the militia restricts women’s freedom of movement and other rights.
The Houthis have prohibited women from traveling between Yemeni cities without a male companion or mahram, according to observers in Sanaa.
Women also report that some service departments no longer assist unaccompanied women.
Angela Abu-Asba, an associate professor of linguistics at the University of Sanaa, said that a technician at an auto repair shop in Sanaa refused to fix her vehicle because she was unaccompanied by a male guardian.
“He said that women are not permitted to enter without a mahram. Bring your mahram and come. I told him, oppressively and bitterly, that my father was in Ibb and my brother was at work,” Abu-Asba said on Facebook.
She later deleted the social media post over fears of Houthi reprisal, with the militia frequently targeting critics from the public sector and elsewhere.