Dr. Nadia Al-Sakkaf, First Woman Minister of Information, Yemen, Editor in Chief - The Yemen Times, Yemen
Dr Nadia Al-Sakkaf is a researcher with special interests in media, democratic transitions, gender and development. She was Yemen’s first female information minister and the only female chief editor of a national independent media establishment in Yemen, the Yemen Times. She co-founded and is co-director of Jusoor Media Co. a Yemeni media organisation aiming at promoting professional and independent media. As an advocate for rights and freedoms, Al-Sakkaf is recognised internationally and consequently is a recipient of several international awards.
Thank you, Dr. Moon, Mrs. Gaye, it is an honor to be here.
Let me start by sharing with you a riddle that I had heard recently.
A father and son were in a car crash. The father died and the son was rushed to the hospital. At the operating the room the surgeon said: stop! I can’t operate on this child; he is my son.
How is that?
The answer is that the surgent was the child’s mother.
When we hear the terms president, prime minister, surgent, doctor, piolet, engineer, director, manager and even boss, the way our social consciousness is being modeled makes us indirectly assume the person is a man.
This is why we say Madame President, and so on.
I love Arabic, my native language. It is a beautiful language and one of the many reasons it is beautiful is that it differentiates adjectives and nouns according to gender. I can say “Mudeer”, which means male boss, or “Mudeera”, which is a female boss. In my work as a politics and media expert, I have started gendering my writing, so that if I am talking about the next defense minister of Yemen for example, it could be a male or female minister, so I say “Wazeer” or “Wazeera”.
I am learning Spanish these days and am delighted to find out that it also differentiates according to gender.
This is one form of gender difference I want to keep and even highlight.
And now I believe we should transform our thinking as we transform our writing to give women their rightful position on the map.
But women do not put themselves out there or ask to be promoted or given top jobs. I hear this argument many times from both men and women. It is true. We women do not say we will do something unless we know we can do it 110% percent. We are perfectionists.
And even then, we doubt ourselves. Many men just grab the opportunities and learn as they do them, because they know that the only way to master something is by actually doing it. We should read a chapter from their book in terms of taking chances on ourselves.
We can do it.
There is so much work to be done. In my country, Yemen, which is wore torn for more than six years. In my region, which has been troubled since 2011. Or in the world, which is sitting on a climate/economic/health time bomb.
The United Nations coins decades in terms of priorities decided by the member states and UN agencies.
They say, the decade to end poverty, the decade for indigenous people, the decade for education, the decade for water, the decade for the ecosystem, the decade for peace… and so on.
In a few months we will start a new decade. How time flies.
I think the next decade should be the decade for women in power.
The decade to have women in charge.
I promise you this, we will deliver … we will deliver on all these issues and more.
The fabulous examples in the panel today is living proof to the amazing accomplishments women can achieve. Women get things done and we do it nicely and to our best abilities.
I end my talk to you with a request… it is a Call to Action.
Join me in coining this new decade as the Decade for Women in Power… the decade women to become…….??
You can fill in the blanks according to what you decide is needed.
A time for women to become equal?
A time for women to become Bosses?
A time for women to become Heroes?
A decade for women to become anything they want and they will be good at it.
2021-2030 is the decade for women in power… a time for women to be.