Yemen.. a feminist initiative facing the pain of war by making knowledge

In Yemen, which is suffering from one of the worst humanitarian and economic crises in the world, feminist initiatives have spread aiming to create a bright reality away from the pains of the conflict that has been going on for nearly 9 years. Among these remarkable activities, an initiative that has emerged recently is concerned with producing, making and preserving knowledge.

Plastic artist Jihad Jarallah, known for her cultural, knowledge and artistic activities in Yemen, along with the Yemeni writer and researcher Saba Hamza, succeeded in establishing an initiative to preserve, archive and produce knowledge.

The initiative was established in 2022, and seeks to produce and preserve knowledge made by Yemeni women, in addition to preserving and producing knowledge that speaks about women in the country.

Jihad stated that this knowledge initiative operates according to two tracks. The first track includes preserving the knowledge that Yemeni women produced and about them in the past through research, collection, documentation and digital archiving.

While the second track is to contribute to the production of knowledge by providing various programs that support women in Yemen and abroad by creating a safe space for blogging and building knowledge.

Jihad Jarallah is a plastic artist and sculptor interested in contemporary art. She forms her artistic achievement with different patterns and materials such as wood, cloth, pottery, and strings. She has started drawing since 2014, and besides that, she works in the field of writing and artistic and cultural research.

Jihad had previously experienced the art of sculpture during the recent period, and had a solo art exhibition entitled "Colored Silence" that she held in 2017, and participated in the "Ehki Art" project of the Bessement Cultural Foundation in 2018.

Feminist initiative in Yemen
Paintings representing Yemeni life and its daily details in an exhibition within the (German) Memory Preservation Initiative

Save memory

Over the decades, a great deal of knowledge has been produced in Yemen by women who have emerged in diverse cultural fields. However, this knowledge was not preserved and archived, which made it vulnerable to neglect and loss, although some of them carried remarkable creative ideas that surpassed what the Yemeni man produced.

In the context of the initiative's mission in this context, Jihad Jarallah says, "We believe in the Yemeni Women's Archive Initiative in the importance of blogging, preserving memory, and social justice."

Regarding the motives that led to the establishment of this initiative, Jihad indicated that "the initiative was established through voluntary efforts and the belief of the women around us in this knowledge project, and we depend mainly on them, and our capital is women."

Over the past months, this initiative has carried out some activities aimed at enhancing the knowledge climate in Yemen, despite the repercussions of the war that have affected various aspects of life.

The initiative received financial support from the Dutch Embassy in Yemen to implement its first cultural project under the name "Hun Mural", which included 14 writers and plastic artists from different Yemeni governorates.

On the most important concerns of the initiative, Jihad, who also has cultural writings in a number of media outlets, explains, "We are interested in knowledge in its various fields, and we are working to create a space for all the knowledge emerging from women's stories and experiences in Yemen and abroad."

And she stresses the importance of the work she is doing in light of the difficult circumstances her country is suffering from, "our belief in the importance of the project is what prompted us to start, and it is also what urges us to continue."

She added, "There are few safe spaces in which women can exist.. We believe that for lasting peace and transitional justice there must be social justice, by identifying the countless experiences of women, as well as the transformations that Yemeni women go through in times of war and peace." ".

remarkable interest

This knowledge project, which was born from the womb of difficult circumstances, aroused the interest of followers, especially Yemeni women. Jihad Jarallah stated that "many people are interested in the project, especially women."

"The support we receive from many Yemeni women has formed the nucleus of international and local partnerships with parties interested in our activities, which contributes to the exchange of experiences and the provision of technical and financial support for the project and its expansion to include more programs and beneficiaries," she added.

Regarding the reality of Yemeni women in light of the war, Jihad Jarallah notes that "the compelling circumstances of conflict and economic deterioration have motivated many women to discover themselves and test their abilities, and we aim for our project to document this knowledge."

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