‘Our Home Cannot Be The Battleground!’ – Women-Led Initiative to Prevent Violence

During the Advanced Training of Trainers on conflict resolution and mediation jointly conducted by UNDP Yemen and Partners Yemen in Lahj governorate, Nusiaba from Tuban district in Lahj Governorate shared her unforgettable experience of violence prevention back in April 2015. Since then, Nusiaba has actively involved in conflict or disputes resolution, mediation and negotiation in her areas, grasped every opportunity to further enhance her skills, and encouraged other female member of her area and community to follow her path.

‘On that day, an armed group tried to enter my area where hosted a high number of IDP (Internally Displaced Persons), mostly women and children,’ Nusiaba recalled. Immediately after she heard this, Nusiaba realised that the presence of armed group in her area could be a threat, in terms of the safety of her community members, IDP hosted, and particularly, youth who were devoted to protect their home by all means. ‘We feared that our area would be turned into a battlefield. I knew that I have to do something for my area and for people I live with,’ Nusiaba said that firmly. She took the initiative to mobilise female community members, particularly those senior and influential female figures, in her area to march to the location where the armed group temporality stationed. ‘We arrived somewhere parked with combat vehicles and asked them [the armed group] to leave our area where populated only with civilian and IDP. We told them clearly that what we want was a safe environment for our families and people.’

The response Nusiaba and her fellows received from the armed group was a surprise – ‘Entering the area was ordered by the senior, Go and Talk to our decision maker directly.’ After hours of waiting, the person who made the order to enter Nusiaba’s area returned. Nusiaba and her fellows nominated a senior female members of the community for the negotiation. ‘She told him that the area populated only with only civilians and IDPs, and she requested him to leave the area. They listened and agreed with our request.’’ After negotiation, the armed group was being ordered to stay away from Nusiaba’s area and more importantly, restrain from any interaction with youth in the area. Nusiaba considered the instructions given by the decision maker of the armed group as a success of this women-led violence reduction initiative; however, it was not an easy one – ‘At the beginning, we faced strong objection from the youth who viewed our actions as shameful and undermine male members in the area. Also, we, as female, were not allowed to pass through a local market while heading to where the armed group stationed. We nominated Zahar, a widely respected and influential female, to negotiate with the community elder for our passage and to explain and justify our action, an action for the peace of our area. Finally, they agreed and we had their full support,’ Nausiaba said proudly.

‘This experience gave me confidence and I knew that I need to further polish any skills on negotiation and mediation,’ said Nusiaba. Since April 2015, Nusiaba participated in various trainings and workshop not only to equip herself with enhanced skills and knowledge, but also share her experience and insights with the other. Funded by the European Union, the Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen (ERRY) Programme provided Nusiaba the opportunity to attend AToT on conflict resolution and mediation, and to deliver training to 33 insider mediators in Tuban district on conflict resolution.

The Enhanced Rural Resilience in Yemen Programme (ERRY) is a three-year joint programme funded by the European Union and implemented by FAO, ILO, UNDP and WFP, to enhance the resilience and self-reliance of crisis-affected rural communities in four governorates of Yemen.