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Women, children and poverty: Assisting female and child-headed households in Yemen

A woman and a little girl

Amina* and her daughter Ruba* in their small rented home in Taiz

Amina* and her daughter Ruba* in their small rented home in Taiz

“I had a big beautiful house in Al Hudaydah, but this war forced me to leave everything behind in search of safety,” says Amina*, a 37-year-old displaced mother of six children. Amina and her husband made the difficult decision to flee in order to save their children. The family ran away at night with only the clothes they had on and reached nearby Taizz governorate empty-handed.

Yemen has the fourth-largest number of internally displaced people (IDP) globally. More than four million people are displaced across the country, 73% of whom are women and children. 1.65 million internally displaced children across Yemen need Education in Emergencies (EiE) assistance. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, about 47% of girls were out of school and 53% of boys.

Food security assessments in Yemen confirm that IDP households face higher food insecurity levels compared to non-displaced households. As a result of their displacement, Amina’s husband lost his fixed-job and started to work for daily wages. Some days he couldn’t get any work, so the family was left without food. “Many days my husband and I skipped meals to save food for our children,” says Amina. Unfortunately, Amina’s husband was injured and couldn’t work anymore. “After my husband’s injury, my older son dropped out of school and started to work and provide for the family,” she adds.

A small boy smiling
Mohaned* had to drop out of school in order to help his family

All children have the right to go to school and learn, regardless of who they are, where they live, or how much money their family has. However, financial insecurity, illness of their caregivers and job loss of the primary wage earner, can prevent children from enrolling in school and leads them to drop out to help their families.

11-year-old Mohaned* lives with his mother and five brothers in a small house in Taizz governorate. Mohaned’s family was displaced at the beginning of the conflict. His father died in an accident in 2015. After that, Mohaned dropped out of school and took on responsibility for providing food and other needs for his family. “I would love to go to school, but I can’t. I had to help my family,” he says sadly.

As small girl smiling
Like all displaced children, Ruba* hopes to return to her old home in Al Hudaydah

Child labour can result in extreme physical and mental harm. In nearly every case, it cuts children off from schooling and healthcare, restricting their fundamental rights and threatening their futures. “One day, there was shooting while I was selling clothes on the street, a bullet passed by my side, but God saved me as usual,” says Mohaned.

With funding from UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), CARE has assisted 1,000 families in Taizz governorate with unconditional cash transfers that prioritize female and child-headed households.

With this money, project participants, including Mohaned and Amina’s family, have been able to buy food, medicine and other essentials. Amina bought a sewing machine and started to sew for her neighbours. “Now, I don’t worry about paying for renting or food. I also re-enrolled my son in school,” she says.

In Mohaned’s case he was able to return to school and hopes that the project will continue to support his family so he can complete his studies. “I feel thrilled to go back to school. I want to be a teacher in the future,” he concludes.

*Names have been changed to protect identities

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