“Electing Yemen to protect women’s rights is like making a pyromaniac into the town fire chief,” human rights watchdog UN Watch executive director Hillel Neuer said. He was referring to the election of Yemen to the vice presidency of the executive board of the United Nations gender equality and women’s empowerment agency, UN Women, for 2019, despite its appalling and brutal history of its treatment of women.
According to CNS News, for the past 13 years, a comprehensive annual report has given Yemen the lowest ranking in the world for gender equality.
As we have said before, you can’t make this stuff up, because it doesn’t just stop at Yemen. Also among those elected late last year were the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon, Nigeria and Sierra Leone by the UN's Economic and Social Council to the Executive Board of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women, while Somalia was among those elected to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women.
Let’s consider what conditions are like for women living in these countries so we can understand the extent of the hypocrisy and lament the miscarriage of justice for those among the world’s most vulnerable.
According to its World Report 2019, the Human Rights Watch website stated: “Women in Yemen face severe discrimination in law and practice. Violence against women in Yemen has increased—an estimated 3 million women and girls were at risk of violence by 2018, according to the UN. Forced marriage rates, including child marriage, have increased. Yemen has no minimum age of marriage. They cannot marry without the permission of their male guardian and do not have equal rights to divorce, inheritance, or child custody. Lack of legal protection leaves them exposed to domestic and sexual violence.”
The record of human rights, let alone women’s rights, are well known in these countries listed, but to stress the point, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report placed Congo at 144th out of 147 countries it monitored, with Lebanon listed 140th, Nigeria at 133rd and Sierra Leone was 114th.
“We’re calling 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,” UN Watch’s Hillel Neuer said.
“How 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?” asked Neuer.
“The election of Yemen as vice-president at UN Women is an insult to women’s rights activists worldwide who struggle against the persecution exemplified by Yemen’s misogynistic laws and practices,” added Neuer.
Epic fail, UN.