Yemen has one of the lowest female labor force participation rates in the world. The conflict-driven economic collapse has devastated Yemen’s labor market, and available data suggest that working women were initially harder hit by the conflict than their male counterparts; proportionally, more women lost their jobs while women-owned businesses were more vulnerable to closing down. Subsequently, however, the prolonged war has pushed more women into the workforce, often through financial necessity due to the economic crisis and the loss of male breadwinners rather than any planned economic empowerment for women.
During the conflict, women have started new enterprises, often home-based businesses, or entered professions like waitressing or retail which were previously dominated by men. The humanitarian response in Yemen has created new employment for women, while some women have been employed in security forces for parties to the conflict. Yemeni women have been pushed into poorly paid, informal physical labor like domestic work, while others have been forced into negative coping mechanisms such as begging.
This policy brief surveys these emerging trends and introduces principles to guide efforts to sustain potential gains in women’s labor force participation and to improve access to decent work for all women in post-conflict Yemen.