[19/October/2003] By Fatma Motaher.
A Yemeni pioneer Woman, was of those female students who accessed to the school in the early years of the 26th of September revolution in 1962 . She is a figure who has introduced the Yemen woman, out of her old-fashion stereotyped , as a partner of the man even in fields used to be confined to men .
She is the first female to be appointed as a diplomatist. This is the Writer , Ambassador Mrs. Ramzia Al-Iryani , elected recently as the Chairwoman of the Yemeni Women Association.
She talked to (Sabanet) about the achievements of the 26th of September revolution in the sector of woman and to recall the woman’s status after the revolution , when she took the first steps to get out of the dark tunnel.
Sabanet : How do you assess what the woman has gained over four decades, age of the revolution ?
Ramzia Al-Iryani : Definitely, there is a breakthrough has been made in the woman’s sphere and, there is no way of comparison between her situation 40 years ago and the status quo.
When I remember the early years of my childhood as a girl following the revolution, I see the woman hardly strive , perhaps to come to a primary school to learn only the alphabets.
Woman was chafed under the yoke of oppression every time and everywhere, suffering poverty, illiteracy, social discrimination and so on.
The revolution was a turning point in the life of Yemeni community. This is clearly seen when we do compare the beginning of girls’ learning in 1963, and the situation at the present.
Woman’s conditions were so miserable, but nowadays Yemeni woman enjoys the advantages the revolution brought about in all walks of life , thereby she is active partner in the development process holds on the various posts as same as the man.
Sabanet: Your words paid much attention to the girl’s education however, the illiteracy rate among women is still high! What’s your comment on this?
Mrs. Al-Iryani: It is true , there is a high percentage of illiteracy but, nobody can deny the progress made and the average dramatically reduced from 99.9 % in 1962, to some 54% as statistics showed in 2001.
This is actually, a significant performance , if we do take into account, the obstacles and challenges that Yemen has faced since the revolution. As you know, there are several problems that hurdle girl’s education in Yemen such as higher rate of population growth, poverty, old-fashion tradition and social customs.
Sabanet: Woman is yet suffering though 41years have passed ever since the revolution! How did your generation manage to overcome the difficulties they faced ?
Mrs. Al-Iryani: Perhaps, we were more ambitious and patience than the young generation. For us, we were minority sought self-determination. We were (12) girls , the first female batch who completed the primary stage in 1968 , in the city of Taiz and in the Yemen Arab Republic as well.
When we wanted to pursue our education , concerned officials, said “ what you got is enough for you”. As preparatory stage couldn’t be inaugurated for that limited numbers , and due the lack of teachers and facilities. But we persisted and remained for a month without teachers until they responded to our demands. The case repeated at the beginning of secondary stage.
Sabanet: Are you satisfied with what the woman has got on?
Mrs. Al-Iryani: Yes, in some fields I’m quite satisfied , but in other areas we were hoping for getting on more. For instance, in the parliament one woman doesn’t satisfy our aspiration, we hope to be better.
We are disappointed that all political parties didn’t stand by the woman. Similarly, in the cabinet, a single woman is far way of what we’re looking for.
Sabanet : What about the Women Association’s plans following its recent conference?
Mrs. Ramzia Al-Iryani : The Association has got strategy for supporting woman in many directions. In spite of, we are disappointed with the stance of the whole political parties, we’re planning to prepare woman to be candidate and to garner a wide popular support for her in the coming elections..