It was the third year of the war when Muna Luqman heard of a conflict over water in Al-Haymatain, a remote area of Yemen’s Taiz governorate well-known for disputes over the scarce resource. Two communities had taken up arms, and were threatening each other, but had not started fighting. Luqman, a peace activist and founder of Food4Humanity, a women-led civil society organisation that provides emergency relief, training and livelihood programmes, sent in a team of engineers to see what could be done.
She then instigated a mediation process between 16 community representatives, who signed a local peace agreement, and formed a council to prevent future water conflicts. Through funds raised entirely by women in the Yemeni diaspora, Food4Humanity repaired the local water station, which now provides clean water for more than 10,000 people. At the end of March, Luqman mediated another water conflict in Taiz governorate. The situation, she says, was exactly the same. “It shows you how local initiatives, when they come together, can have a lot of impact, especially when led by women.”
Twenty years ago, the United Nations Security Council passed Resolution 1325, which recognised the vital role of women in achieving peace and security. However, when it comes to Yemen, the UN has failed to ensure that women have a role shaping the future of their country. Despite the crucial work of Yemeni women building peace on the frontline of war, their efforts have been ignored and not adequately supported, and they remain excluded from crucial peace negotiations.
The conflict in Yemen began following a failed political transition, when the Houthis pulled out of the national dialogue process in 2014, seized the capital Sana’a and ousted the new leader Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi the following January. The Yemeni government, exiled in the port city of Aden, requested its allies Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to launch an air and ground campaign to drive out the Houthis, escalating the conflict.