Focus on Yemen | Civic and Political Participation

Publication Date: 
7 Dec 2010

Publication Type:



This topic brief presents the main findings from the SWMENA survey in Yemen on civic and political participation. It includes an analysis of civic engagement through membership in different types of organizations and taking part in different activities to express opinions on political and social issues. Voting behavior is also explored in reference to participation in the 2006 municipal and presidential elections as well as women’s opinions about policy priorities and factors influencing their voting choices.

Engagement in Different Types of Organizations

In order to examine the extent of civic engagement of women in Yemen, we asked respondents if they are currently or had been members of different types of organizations. This shows the level of association of people with others outside their house and can be a reflection of how active and informed they are as citizens.

  • Data from the SWMENA survey shows that overall levels of membership in different organizations are extremely low for women and relatively low for men with the exception of membership in political parties. 
  • Five percent of Yemeni women say they are members of political parties compared to nearly 47% of men. Indeed, the Yemeni population is known to be highly politicized; however, the large gender gap in membership of political parties indicates that women are not partaking in this political activism as much as men.
  • No more than 2% of Yemeni women report being members of other types of organizations such as religious groups, charity organizations women’s organizations, trade unions, cooperatives, NGOs, and artist or scientist unions. 
  • More men are members of different organizations than women: 14% of Yemeni men are members of trade unions or professional syndicates, 11% are members of religious groups, 10% are members of cooperatives, and 7% are members of charity organizations (Figure 1).
  • When aggregating data on memberships in organizations regardless of organization type, we find that 4% of Yemeni women are members of one organization, 2% are members of two organizations and another 1% are members of three organizations or more. This leaves 93% of Yemeni women who are not members of any organization (Figure 2).
  • Meanwhile, 31% of men are members of one organization, 11% are members of two organizations, and 12% are members of three organizations or more.


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