Thursday, July 09, 2009

Gender Issues: Empowering Yemeni women

The Yemen Times reports being an electric engineer was not enough for Rina. She furthered her profession by studying photography until she became a teacher of videography at the Technical and Industrial Institute in Al Mu'alla, Aden.

“This specialization is new in our centre, the curriculum is good, it suits market demand and I strongly believe there are a lot of job opportunities out there for girls who want to be photographers,” she said.

Rina is among few young Yemeni women who enrolled in specializations traditionally associated to men, such as desk top publishing, computer programming and construction.

Society is still not aware that these new fields of study are most needed in the labor market. Fathers and mothers are still holding onto the idea that their daughters should guarantee themselves a good future by going to universities, even though realistically there are a lot of university graduates who don’t have the labour market relevant skills."

"They blame the government for not creating jobs, they don't think that their sons or daughters would have found a job had they studied in another field of education or training,” she explained, referring to the misconception that most Yemenis have of vocational training or technical education.

"The main issue with technical Education and vocational training is considered as a manual labor and heavy work which is physically exhausting and with low income. That is what vocational training means in the mind of majority of people in Yemen,"

Very few Yemeni women are currently enrolled in technical centers focusing on industrial training such as carpentry, electricity, and construction.

Instead, they enroll for training at centers that offer more traditionally women-orientated skills such as sewing, embroidery, handicrafts and hairdressing. But this niche is already oversaturated, and has limited returns in terms of women participating in income-generating activities.

A few women such as Rina have gone forward and signed up for training in non-traditional specializations. In the academic year 2008-2009,more young women signed up for courses in institutes across Yemen, according to the Ministry of Technical Education and Vocational Training.

In order of preference, they chose courses in computer programming, office management; accounting, early childcare, marketing, management, photography, desk top publishing, interior design, PC maintenance, telecom engineering, engineering construction and building construction, according to the ministry's administrative records.

According to the Department of Women Workers at the Ministry of TEVT that collected the data, participation in these traditionally male-dominated specializations ranged from 256 of women enrolments in computer programming down to just three enrolments in construction.

Read the full article - Vocational training to empower Yemeni women
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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