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Women Bring Peace in Yemen

Speaking Out for Just US Foreign Policy

The war in Yemen, fueled by US military support for the Saudi-led coalition and by Houthi rebel attacks, has unleashed a humanitarian disaster. Women and girls—who have been disproportionately impacted by the conflict—hold vital solutions to peace and must play a meaningful role in the peacebuilding process.

To push for solutions to this crisis, we brought our partner Muna Luqman—the Founder of Food4Humanity in Yemen—to speak with policymakers in Washington, DC about a just and feminist US policy towards Yemen.

Muna Luqman is a visionary peacebuilder. She has opened humanitarian aid corridors, resolved conflicts between warring communities, negotiated with armed groups over child hostages and advocated in the international arena for peace and women’s rights in Yemen. Muna is also a co-founder of the Women Solidarity Network, the largest women’s network in Yemen. Muna has briefed the UN Security Council on the crisis in Yemen, and received the Eighth International Young Women’s Peace Award.

Muna Luqman

What did our delegation achieve?

  • Created a space for progressive Representatives to hear from Muna Luqman on what a progressive US-Yemen policy looks like - and what the realities on the ground are
  • Shifted the narrative about US policy in Yemen, including by calling for support for an inclusive peace process in Yemen and improved delivery of humanitarian and development aid to grassroots women-led organizations
  • Built fruitful relationships with progressive Congressional offices to lay the groundwork for future work together

Congressional Briefing

We held a Congressional briefing in partnership with Representative Jan Schakowsky’s office, titled “Women Bring Peace: The War in Yemen and Women’s Leadership in Peacebuilding.” Muna shared solutions to the conflict and humanitarian crisis in Yemen, the peacebuilding work of grassroots women’s organizations, and the importance of an inclusive peace process with a central role for women’s leadership.

Muna Luqman and Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, speaking at our Capitol briefing on October 24.
Muna Luqman and Yifat Susskind, MADRE Executive Director, speaking at our Capitol briefing on October 24.

 

Congressional Meetings

MADRE joined with Muna Luqman in meeting with progressive Members of Congress who have supported efforts to end US complicity in Yemen’s war.

Muna Luqman and MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind in between meetings with progressive policymakers in Washington, DC.
Caption: 
Muna Luqman and MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind in between meetings with progressive policymakers in Washington, DC.

Muna Luqman and MADRE's team with Representative Ro Khanna after a meeting to discuss an end to the war in Yemen.
Muna Luqman and MADRE's team with Representative Ro Khanna after a meeting to discuss an end to the war in Yemen.

Muna Luqman and MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind shared solutions to the humanitarian crisis with Representative Mark Pocan.
Muna Luqman and MADRE Executive Director Yifat Susskind shared solutions to the humanitarian crisis with Representative Mark Pocan.

What are the key issues we raised with policymakers?

Ending US military support for the Saudi coalition: Muna spoke about the importance of ending US complicity in this war, which has killed and displaced thousands. US support for the Saudi coalition fueled and launched airstrikes, prevented aid from reaching communities, and worsened violence by deepening local support for the Houthi rebels and armed groups, who gain legitimacy amongst war-weary communities by claiming to resist foreign attacks.

Advancing an inclusive peace process: Muna emphasized the importance of a comprehensive peace process supported by US diplomacy. The current UN peace process is not truly inclusive; it fails to meaningfully include women, youth, and civil society. Muna gave a historical perspective of past processes that worked well, such as the 2014 National Dialogue Conference, which brought together more than 500 members representing diverse stakeholders in Yemen, including youth, women, and people with disabilities.

“When we exclude people, that leads to more conflict.” - Muna Luqman

Women’s peacebuilding at the grassroots: Women in Yemen are negotiating ceasefires, opening humanitarian aid corridors, and releasing hundreds of detainees. For instance, Food4Humanity fixed a broken water station and negotiated a truce among conflicting villages. After the water station was fixed, women and girls no longer had to walk up to six hours a day to fetch water. Now, Food4Humanity is launching a girls’ school in the community. This is an example of an integrated, long-term approach that increases the likelihood of a lasting peace.

One staffer we spoke to commended Muna, saying “You bring in a very fresh perspective...We’re not hearing from Yemeni women who are building a better future for themselves, who are brokering ceasefires and releasing detainees.”

Women’s inclusion in peace processes: Our delegation helped policymakers understand why women must be included in peace processes. It is not just about gender parity. Women’s on-the-ground, lifesaving work that builds trust and fosters connections across communities gives them the expertise needed to be key actors in peace processes. With their deep knowledge of community needs, women ensure that peace negotiations meet those demands, paving the way for a more durable peace.

Restructuring humanitarian aid with an emphasis on community development: Muna called for more effective ways of delivering humanitarian aid, including by distributing aid through grassroots organizations that have the trust of communities. We shared the importance of prioritizing longer-term development and livelihoods — even during wartime. Community resilience work cannot wait until peace has been reached. In fact, it is a key driver of peace. For instance, by creating opportunities for youth to attend school and engage in humanitarian activities, Food4Humanity helps limit the recruitment of youth by armed groups, strengthening peace locally.

To learn more, read our fact sheet on the war in Yemen and women’s solutions to peace.