In Yemen, the country that ranks last in the world’s Gender Gap Index, while the conflict in Yemen has had a horrific impact on all civilians in general, especially women and girls who have been greatly affected. Negative gender stereotypes, protracted armed conflict, forced displacement, deterioration of institutions, and economic stagnation have exacerbated the precarious situation of women in the country, especially marginalized women.
Misk, a 35-years old girl from the marginalized group, lives in Taiz governorate, loves community work, and hopes to be in one of the decision-making positions. Misk began her life in the countryside in Taiz governorate, where she grew up and received her basic and secondary education. In 2011, she moved from the countryside to the city, to complete her university education in the Arabic language department at Taiz University, and recently joined a private university to study law.
Negative stereotypes related to discrimination between groups of Yemeni society led to the rooting of class division and classifying this group under a specific name that expresses racial discrimination, in addition to restricting them to specific jobs, which contributed significantly to depriving them of other opportunities. Despite the international and local laws in force that criminalize and prohibit racial discrimination among members of Yemeni society, the society itself has contributed to imposing discrimination between groups in society since ancient times.
After she arrived to the city, and during her stay in Taiz, and because of her great love for community work, Misk began to search for the lives of marginalized women in Taiz city, where she found things that she did not like because she found women who were thrown by norms, traditions, class and ethnic distinctions outside of society and were deprived of their most basic human rights.
Misk took it upon herself to support these women, and launched her initiative to support marginalized women and deliver her voice that is coming from the countryside to the local authority in the governorate and receive the initial support, thus establishing a solid entity that draws its strength from its firm belief in the issue for which it was established.
By the end of 2014, Misk established Kefaya Social Association, which aims primarily to raise awareness of marginalized women of their social, economic, and political rights, advocate for marginalized women’s issues and support them in front of the courts, in addition to supporting and empowering women economically. This made it the first entity to address issues of Marginalized Women, led by a marginalized woman, in Taiz, and due to lack of resources, Misk was unable to find a headquarters or purchase assets for her association, which greatly made some donors to stop funding it.
The war began in Taiz city in early 2015, ending the work of most governmental and non-governmental agencies in the city, which made the lives of the residents go through years of suffering which increases as the war continues. While the conflict in Yemen has had a horrific impact on all civilians in general, women and girls in particular, especially marginalized women, have been affected by the exploitation, deprivation, and marginalization of their roles in all areas of life.
After the escalation of the war in Taiz, Kefaya Association faced more difficulties and challenges such as the lack of funding to implement its activities aimed at supporting marginalized women in all areas of life, but with its high enthusiasm and its great belief in their entitlement to support and care, it began implementing some activities with self-support through initiatives that were launched by Misk and some marginalized and educated women.
Misk says: "The marginalized women, especially in the event of war, have become in greater need of support in terms of the relief and legal aspects.
Although she was injured while providing her services in one of the city’s neighborhoods, Misk, through her association, continued to provide her services tirelessly to the community as a whole, where she worked to deliver water to besieged neighborhoods, in addition to providing relief to some families affected by conflicts and delivering medicines to hospitals at a time when most hospitals in Taiz were suffering from a lack of medicine and oxygen due to the siege.
According to Misk, in 2020, Kefaya Association received support from an INGO that provided it with complete furniture and supported it with another project through which Misk could build the capacities of a number of marginalized young men and women in development and good governance. These two projects were the beginning of the launch of Kifaya Association, and it started to appear little by little.
The active participation of women and youth in their communities gives them acceptance, respect and appreciation from other decision makers and community leaders, which may facilitate their efforts to raise awareness and advocacy at the community level.
Fortunately for Misk and other young men and women in Taiz Governorate, GWQ with the fund from CARE International, provided its program “Strengthening Community Participation and Building the Capacity of CSOs and Youth and Women Initiatives, and Activating Their Roles in Local Communities” which included several training programs in the field of governance, advocacy, sustainable development and peaceful activism, which aims to enhance the participation of young men and women in society, and Misk was one of those young men who were targeted and empowered to better communicate with her community.
Later, within the framework of the same program, GWQ provided several small grants to several organizations, one of which was Kifaya Social Association.
Kefaya, through its grant, could implement its project "Peace Brown Mediators" to build the capacities of 20 educated women from the marginalized group on mediation and conflict resolution, with the aim of involving more marginalized women in decision-making in society, in addition to resolving water-related conflicts in Al-Qahirah district, and bullying in Al-Mudhaffar district. The project also provided capacity building for Kefaya's team by empowering them in the financial and administrative fields so that they can obtain funds in the future.
Misk says: "Before the project's intervention, Kifaya Association team did not have a complete knowledge on planning, writing project proposals and reports, preparing budgets, and financial liquidations. We, in Kefaya Association, obtained a structural qualification in all administrative and financial fields, which made us ready to take on any project and prepare financial liquidations and reports with ease and high professionalism, and this makes me reassuring and makes me feel proud.”
Despite the vital actions and roles that Misk performed, and the dangers she was exposed to that could have cost her life, her good actions and imprints remained completely isolated and out of the minds of many in civil and governmental society, just as is the case with the society she came from.
To highlight her great roles that had to come to light, and within the same program through which Misk obtained capacity building and a grant, GWQ organized an inspiring women event, hosting Misk along with other women who had an impact on community work where Misk could highlight what she did during the war years.
Misk says: "Before I come up to talk about my experience, the community did not know what roles Misk Al-Maqrami played during the long years of war. Seeing my name on social media gave me a great feeling of joy, and being named as an inspirational person gave me new strength and determination to continue what I do.”
Misk’s going up to the Inspiring Women’s platform had the most prominent impact on her personal and professional life. After she went up to the Inspiring Women’s platform and talked about her experience, she was chosen to be a member of the women’s sector at Taiz Forum which supports the local authority and this makes her the only forum member from the marginalized group. Misk has become an active player in resolving many conflicts in society.
Misk says happily, "Choosing me to be a member of the women's sector in Taiz Forum which supports the local authority, made me feel that I am close to my dream of participating in decision-making. "Marginalized women's faith in Misk Al-Maqrami has increased more than before."
Misk dreams that the rate of violations against marginalized women will decrease, and that there will be justice towards them through empowering them in all areas of life, especially education, to enable them live a decent and peaceful life away from begging in the streets and preventing the employment of marginalized girls.