Monday 4 February 2013

Yemeni women continue to forge ahead

Modeling traditional women attire at last week's fashion show in Sana'a 

You always need that first woman to actually break the boundary, crack the generic typecast that will enthuse other girls.
Another Yemeni woman -- journalist and women's rights campaigner Balqees al-Ahmad -- did just that last week.
She had her newly founded NGO –namely, “The SHE Institution for Women’s Culture, Creativity and Development” -- organize Yemen’s first fashion show in the capital Sana’a.
Dr. Manahel Thabet
Her exploit is clearly dwarfed by the earlier achievements of two outstanding Yemeni women: world-renowned economist-cum-scientist Dr. Manahel Thabet and Nobel Peace Prize co-recipient Tawakkol Karman.
Dr. Manahel Thabet is the youngest and only Arab with a degree of PhD in Financial Engineering with magna cum laude "honor.” She is also the only Arab woman and one of the few in the world to enter into the discipline of science using metaphysics theories. Her biography is simply mind-boggling.
Tawakkol Karman, at age 32, was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize, which she shared with two other female activists in 2011.
Balqees al-Ahmad too can now add a “first” to her name for breaking a taboo in the quest for gender equity and women’s empowerment in Yemen.
Balqees al-Ahmad
She explained why camcorders and cameras were banned from last Thursday’s groundbreaking fashion show at the “Fursan Luxury Suites” hotel in Sana’a. Only a limited selection of stills was distributed to the media after the event.
“I think everyone understands our special circumstances,” she told “Given our social realities and tribal traditions, many women are denied access to education… Pictures, on screen or in print, of women parading on catwalks with make-up and without veil do not sit well with extremists…”
But the fashion show was a crowd-getter, drawing scores of government officials, political and cultural figures, diplomats, and women socialites and activists.
The parade of 2013 fashion and traditional Yemeni wear was interspersed with folk dance and music.
Most interestingly, the wives of eight foreign ambassadors showed up at the venue in a variety of Yemeni traditional attire.
From left, the wives of the ambassadors of Italy, Turkey, Indonesia, Algeria, Palestine, Iraq, India & Egypt