|GENEVA, Jan. 9, 2019 — UN Watch today revealed the UN’s election of Yemen, the lowest ranking country in the world on gender equality, to be vice-president of the Executive Board of UN Women, which is the United Nations entity for gender equality and the empowerment of women.
Electing Yemen to protect women’s rights is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief.
UN Watch calls on UN chief Antonio Guterres and high commissioner for human rights Michelle Bachelet to speak out against this absurd and morally repugnant decision, which sends absolutely the wrong message from the very organization that is supposed to be protecting women from discrimination.
Yemen was ranked 149th out of 149 in last year’s Global Gender Gap Report, produced by the World Economic Forum.
By what logic could the UN choose Yemen, a country that tolerates female genital mutilation, denies women hospital treatment without the permission of a male relative, and counts a woman’s testimony as worth half that of a man?
We remind the UN that women in Yemen cannot marry without permission of their male guardians, and face deeply entrenched discrimination in both law and practice, in all aspects of their lives, including employment, education and housing.
The election of Yemen as vice-president at UN Women is an insult to women’s rights activists who struggle against the persecution exemplified by Yemen’s misogynistic laws and practices.
Executive Board members who joined the vote by acclamation yesterday to elect Yemen include Ireland, Norway and Sweden.
Beyond the symbolic significance, Yemen now acquires some influence in shaping discussions at the global women’s rights agency.
“Glad to be elected,” tweeted Mr. Marwan Ali Noman, Yemen’s deputy ambassador to the UN in New York. “Warmest congrats Marwan, all the best mate!!” replied Mr. Murad Hussein Issa, a Yemeni delegate to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.