Washington, D.C.—The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) will be presenting groundbreaking data on the status of women in Yemen at a workshop this December 4th and 5th in Cairo, Egypt. While few women in Yemen participate in the labor force, more are interested in pursuing a career—and this is particularly true among younger women.

Jane Henrici, Study Director, and Jeffrey Hayes, Senior Research Associate, are available for comment on the four topic briefs on the status of women in Yemen that they will be presenting in Cairo. The groundbreaking survey data address factors such as the economic status, career aspirations, and access to resources such as health care of women in Yemen. Representatives from the Yemeni government and non-governmental organizations have been invited to attend the workshop. The briefing papers will be available at www.iwpr.org on Monday, December 6.

“Women in Yemen are working hard to gain opportunities, along with men, to help their families and communities,” said Henrici. “More Yemeni women are getting formal educations than in the past and this seems to help with other opportunities.” Labor force participation among Yemeni women is extremely low, particularly when compared to that of men: 61 percent of men work for pay, compared to only 7 percent of women. But labor force participation is higher among more educated women (21 percent of those with secondary degrees, and 48 percent of those with a university degree or higher). Eighty-six percent of women and 60 percent of men report they have less than a secondary-level education.

Many women in the region are interested in pursuing career or work opportunities outside of the home, but factors such as income, access to educational facilities, and marital status may influence these decisions. Young urban-dwelling women are much more likely than rural women in the same age group to say they intend to pursue post-secondary education. Thirty-eight percent of women living in rural areas say they intend to pursue a career. Sixty-three percent of urban women either already work in a career or plan to in the future.

A woman’s education and employment status can affect her access to other resources outside of the home. Women without a formal education may lack basic literacy and math skills, leaving them vulnerable to economic insecurity. Women who work for pay are somewhat more likely to have the freedom to leave the house, and have greater financial savings and access to credit. Forty-eight percent of women who work for pay are completely restricted from leaving the house, compared to thirty-two percent of women who do not work for pay.

The survey results also reflect other factors that influence quality of life for women working in Yemen. While availability of health care varies widely across the country, most women report that medical care is not easily available or is completely lacking. Women with higher levels of education tend to have greater rates of access to health care. Forty-nine percent of women with less than a primary school education lack access to health care. In contrast, 67 percent of women with a university degree or higher have access to health care.

IWPR and IFES conducted the survey research as part of a project on “The Status of Women in the Middle East and North Africa” with funding from the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). Survey data was collected from 1,993 women and 508 men during June and July 2010.

The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IWPR) conducts rigorous research and disseminates its findings to address the needs of women and their families, promote public dialogue, and strengthen communities and societies. IWPR is a 501 (c) (3) tax-exempt organization that also works in affiliation with the women’s studies and public policy programs at The George Washington University.

The International Foundation for Electoral Systems is an independent, non-governmental organization providing professional support to electoral democracy. Through field work, applied research and advocacy, IFES strives to promote citizen participation, transparency, and accountability in political life and civil society.