Yemen: Walking the talk in Yemen: The Gender Focal Points Group in Yemen: A living example for taking gender action under Business Continuity Management

Walking the talk in Yemen
The Gender Focal Points Group in Yemen – A living example for taking gender action under Business Continuity Management

The GIZ Yemen Gender Focal Points Group “walks the talk”: For more than 2 years of working under Business
Continuity Management conditions, in war- torn Yemen and with a deteriorating humanitarian situation, the
topic gender unites national and international colleagues. Together we take action to overcome gender
(in)equality in Yemen, and to promote equality in our programmes. We serve as role models for our
colleagues, and we send hope to everybody who does not give up working for a better future.

Context

Women in Yemen continue to face political and social discrimination shown in the
ongoing practice of child marriage, low school enrolment rate of girls,
inaccessibility of reproductive health for 64 % of the Yemeni population, and only
25,2% female labor force participation.
During the political uprising in 2011, change for the better of the Yemeni women’s
situation seemed possible when for the first time women took the streets side by
side with men, and when women were included into the national dialogue
conference for the first time in a significant number. But with the conflict
escalation in 2014 and the beginning of the Saudi-led airstrikes on Yemen in
March 2015, the hopes are dashed. Armed conflict spread rapidly across much of
Yemen with devastating consequences for civilians. UN OCHA estimates that 21.1
million people – 80 per cent of the population – require some form of
humanitarian protection or assistance. The conflict forces particularly women into
vulnerable situations. At the same time it leads both women and men to adopt
coping strategies that can also challenge traditional gender norms.
GIZ Yemen works in addition to the development priority areas of water and
education in the areas of sustainable economic development, vocational training,
food security, biodiversity, good governance, and health. As a consequence of
deteriorating security and political situation starting in 2011, the working modus is
under business continuity management. Despite a short return for seconded staff in 2012 and 2013, the
international staff works permanently from outside the country while national colleagues continue in Yemen.

Who are we?

The Gender Focal Points Group has been set up in the summer 2013 to institutionalize and promote gender
equality within GIZ programmes and in Yemen. Our 13 members come from almost all GIZ programmes
implemented in Yemen, and also from the GIZ Office. We combine the knowledge and experience from the
different sectors and approaches. Our strength is our diversity: We are women & men; national & international
staff; Yemenis & Germans; project staff & GIZ office staff; advisors, admins & managers. Together we meet
regularly, exchange ideas, learn about gender and implement joint activities.

Our vision for the group is: We promote and support gender equality in Yemen
 with regards to the results of our projects (equal benefits)
 throughout the cooperation with our partners (equal participation)
 at our workplace at GIZ (equal opportunities)

Why should we be awarded?

We make gender mainstreaming coming true in our project’s approaches.
♦♦
We produce context-sensitive products and awareness raising materials.
We bring together different people with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
♦♦
We move the minds of national staff and our partners.
♦♦
We proof that gender is not just “nice-to-have” whenever possible, but always essential for our work.
♦♦
We are a living example for resilience. We show that continuity and sustainability is possible even under
extreme conditions of conflict, war and business continuity management.

What do we do?

Awareness raising – implementation of gender
days (women and men days), development of
awareness raising materials, campaigning

Capacity development – offering gender trainings
with national staff and with AVs as well as
sensitization sessions for national colleagues

Analysis and M&E – analyzing gender issues for
project designs and supporting the formulation of
gender indicators

Networking – connecting with Yemeni actors in the
field of gender, setting up a partnership with the
Gender and Development Research Center at
University of Sana’a

Knowledge management – setting up a gender library at the GIZ Office in Sana’a, publishing a newsletter,
organizing DMS file

Project Implementation – gender focal persons advocating in their teams to consider aspects of equity and
equality during the project activities

How do we work?

The group continues to exist during the current situation of Business Continuity Management. We
communicate monthly via Skype, and have met once for a gender training in Amman.
We are a multi-sectoral and cross-cultural group. We cultivate an atmosphere of diversity, we encourage
everybody to express his/her opinions, and we welcome controversial debates. We learn mutually from each
other.

We developed a joint vision and an annual work plan. Its budget is shared by the projects. We have defined
working fields and have set up tasks forces (see above). TORs for gender focal points frame our tasks within
the teams. Most of the gender focal points have regular slots during their team meetings to discuss gender
issues.

We actively promote and make our colleagues aware of that gender equality is essential for sustainable
development. Therefore, we include gender as topic in the annual staff meetings and we present our work
during the induction courses for new national staff.
Whenever possible we work in tandems of national and international colleagues and experts, which is quality
assurance and capacity building measure likewise.

Insights:

The group has successfully implemented several activities. Our success and acceptance by our colleagues, team
leaders and partners, is based in a variety of approaches and products which are presented in the following
section:

Film “Women in Leadership positions”
Working on the topic of women’s economic
participation, we produced a video about the situation
of Yemeni female professionals in leadership positions
on the occasion of Women’s Day 2015. The film is based
on interviews with 7 female leaders at partner
institutions of GIZ projects documented with
smartphones.
Finalized under extremly difficult conditions of openarmed conflict, it captures a unique moment before the
war proving the potentials for women’s economic
participation and discussing the necessary
preconditions.

Exhibitions “Gender matters” (2014) and “Brave men” (2015)
The group members know: Gender does not only concern women. To increase the understanding of how men
are involved into gender issues, we have organized for the second time in a row an exhibition about men. On
the occasion of the international men’s day on 19th of November in 2014 and 2015 we collected statements
from different staff members, and presented them at four different locations where GIZ Yemen staff works:
Sana’a, Bonn, Eschborn, and Berlin. The two exhibitions were about:
 “Why do I support gender equality…?” (2014)
 “What is a ‘brave man’ to me…?” – Playing with Stereotypes (2015)

Training for National Staff and for Team leaders
We met once for a face-to-face meeting in Amman
in October 2014. Together with a tandem team of
national and international trainer we learnt basics
concepts, the role of gender at GIZ, and gender in
German development cooperation and its
influence in different sectors. We transferred the
new knowledge in “sensitization sessions” to our
colleagues in Yemen.
In September 2015, all programme leaders came
together in Eschborn to learn about gender
aspects in development cooperation and
commission management.

Gender Analysis & Follow Up-tool
We developed a mechanism for carrying
out the gender analysis, specifying the
different roles and responsibilities of team
leaders, gender focal points, and external
consultants. Together with a local
consultant, the group reviewed and
updated an introductory part about gender
(in)equality in Yemen which is used in every
project’s analysis. It has made the
recommendations more applicable and
relevant for the project. An excel tool was
developed, which helps the different
projects to implement and to follow up the
key recommendations.

Learning about “Gender in conflict situations”
A newsletter project started in August 2015,
observing that there is little media coverage
about the impact of the war’s dynamics on
gender relations. The newsletter collects online
available information, particularly from social
media and reports of relief organizations.
In November 2015, the Gender and
Development Research and Scientific Studies
Center at Sana’a University, held also a lecture
about gender specific impacts of war situation
in Yemen, attended by 40 colleagues in Sana’a.

Effects within the projects
The individual gender focal points advocate in their project teams to promote equal chances for women and
men during the implementation of activities. In line with the three-fold gender approach of BMZ, we promote
gender equality at policy level, empower women and do gender mainstreaming in our projects.

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