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Women not Free to Choose in Elections; Follow Family Opinion, Study says
  Written By: Ahmed M. Ba-Matrf (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date:
December 01
, 2008



According to a study conducted by Woman Leadership Forum,   women are not free to choose their own candidates during the different local, parliamentary or presidential elections. 

Women's choice is made out of family considerations as 58.7 percent of participants revealed that they have no option but to elect the candidates favored by their male relatives.

In 2006 presidential and local elections, women made up about 42 percent of the total number of voters. However, the study results indicate that an overwhelming majority of women vote under the influence of their families, local affiliation, or recommendations of friends.

Women's participation in the political life, mainly in the electoral process, is not enough for women to have an active role in politics.

The democratic electoral process urges political parties and decision-makers to form a good environment for women to participate effectively in the political life.

Head of the Women Leadership Forum, Dr. Ibtahal Al-Kamal said that laws gave women a chance to participate in the electoral process, but women's rights are being handcuffed by their male relatives.

Women's level of education plays an important role on the woman's desire for whom to vote for. Women who have little or no access to education are not able to vote for who they want without consulting their families.

34 years old and Al-Zahra Secondary School teacher in Rada'a, Nahla Abdul Monem Dhieffullah, said that she can vote for the candidate she wants, adding that she has not received any threat from her family to force her to vote for the candidate they want.

According to the public election's law, women can participate effectively and without cultural restraints, as the Supreme Commission for Elections and Referendum (SCER) set up separate voting booths for women, and encourages women's rights by forming female committees to register female voters.

According to the study, core issues such as moral values, candidates' sufficiency, or candidates' electoral program did not resound strongly to women when deciding for whom to vote for in the 2006 presidential and local elections.

The social heritage which lead women to follow their husbands makes them unable to be free for in voting, as societies believe that it's a shame for husbands if their wives vote for candidates their husbands are not in favor with.

Political observers believe discriminations against women cannot be easily eliminated from the women's political life until the government makes an end to illiteracy and help women reach the stage of participation in decision-making.

In rural areas, political party's representatives encourage people to let their wives and sisters vote, but also make sure that the vote goes their way.

Surprising to know, numerous political party leaders strongly believe that men should control women's right, in order to ensure they vote for them. This procedure doesn't attribute to any political point as it prevents rights from being appropriates.

"How do you expect me to feel if my wife voted for the candidate I don't like," said 39 years old and General People Congress (GPC) member, Ahmed Naif Al-Wajeeh, whose comments reflect the deep dislike among Yemenis to allowing women to vote for candidates they don't agree with.

Meanwhile, numerous women were verbally harmed by relatives after they knew that they voted for candidates they are not in favor with.

With the 2006 elections, women voters were most focused on soaring prices and the cost of daily lives as they were hearing enough from the ruling party General People Congress (GPC) and the Joint Meeting Parties (JMP) candidates.

Women have played an important role during the electoral processes, and in result political parties want to take advantage of the women's votes to win elections.