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[Brussels – 12 March 2020] A delegation of women leaders from South Yemen visited Brussels on the occasion of International Women’s Day this week. The delegation comprised of Southern political and civil society activists led a public event around advancing Southern women’s political participation, as well as met with European officials to discuss progress on a solution for the South issue and ensuring an inclusive UN-led political process.

“Given the fragile security and humanitarian situation on the ground, we deemed it timely and critical to engage with our European partners, as well as INGOs in Brussels,” said Sanaa Mubarak, member of the Southern Transitional Council National Assembly. “While the threat of an escalation across Yemen persists, we are intensifying our efforts to support the resumption of political talks led by UN Envoy Martin Griffiths. It’s been proven time and again that a political – not military – solution is the only way forward for the South and Yemen.”

Hend Omairan, Southern women’s rights activist and member of the Southern Independent Group commented: “We continue to advocate for the meaningful inclusion and participation of Southern women at all levels, be that in peace building efforts on the ground or the Yemeni political process. With European officials, we urged for a redoubling of international efforts to enable women voices to sit at the negotiating table and empower us, as well as human rights defenders on the ground with capacity and expertise building. We also further encouraged officials to include us Southern women more systematically in EU-funded projects in support of the WPS agenda in Yemen.”

“An inclusive political process necessitates that the peace process is inclusive of both women and Southern voices,” added Amira Augustin, STC EU Political Affairs Representative. “The South issue needs to be firmly on the agenda of the talks to avoid pitfalls in past efforts at peace. The STC welcomes Envoy Griffiths’ consultations to restart talks and we are engaging with our constituency to refine our vision for the South and options for future governance. We look to the European Union and European Member States to demonstrate more leadership toward resolving Southern grievances, and work with us as we build on the progress from the Riyadh Agreement.”

“The Southern people and all Yemenis have suffered immeasurably from the war in Yemen, said Nadia Hafedh of the South Yemen Women’s Forum. “We, in the diaspora, are proud to deliver some of their voices and concerns, but ultimately they aspire for concrete solutions. A sustainable peace and just future is only possible if the voices of civil society, women, and youth – not political power dynamics – dictate the political process. Parallel mechanisms to feed our voice into the UN process are welcome but they are no alternative for our direct involvement in setting the agenda of the talks and their outcomes.”

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