After years of war, Yemen still holds the unenviable title of the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The long lasting and ongoing conflict in the country has had a disproportionate impact on women and girls in Yemen who face increased risks. Even before the conflict escalated in 2015, Yemen was amongst the lowest-ranking countries in terms of women’s economic participation and educational attainment.
“To be born in Yemen means that you must struggle to get the basic needs like food and water for as long as you live,” says 30-year-old Dhikryat, an ambitious young woman from Aden city, southern Yemen.
Dhikryat is the youngest of five brothers and four sisters. Her father is the family’s main breadwinner.
“My father’s modest salary wasn’t even enough to cover the monthly expenses of the family. We used to eat two meals a day. I often felt deprived.”
Dhikryat is a hard working lifelong learner. After graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in physics, she achieved several diplomas in secretarial work, information technology (IT) and website design.
“I’ve dreamed of being financially independent since I was a child,” says Dhikryat. “I started to work at the age of fifteen teaching children in my neighbourhood for a small fee. After graduating from university, I worked in different jobs, including teaching, dress making, designing and selling printed t-shirts. I realized that no matter how difficult life is, I had to maintain my right to live, dream, and never lose hope,” she adds.
Dhikryat learned about CARE’s Women in Enterprise program in Aden. With funding from the H&M Foundation, CARE provides free training programs to women entrepreneurs to start and expand their businesses.
“I learned a lot about project management, as well as life skills, accounting, marketing and Village Savings and Loan Associations (VSLAs),” says Dhikryat. “With the help of my trainer, I drafted my business plan and applied for a loan. Thanks to my strong entrepreneurial mindset, I decided to start a taxi business for women.”Dhikryat behind the wheel of her taxi. Basma Ali/CARE
“Women are looking for safe transportation options for themselves and their children, but it is very rare here to find a woman-operated taxi service,” says Dhikryat. “At the beginning, my brothers refused the idea, but I insisted on moving it forward. Thanks to CARE’s support, I got a loan of 500 thousand Yemeni Rial. Topped up with my personal savings-800 thousand Yemeni Rial-I used the money to buy a car and started my taxi business.”
“When I started, I didn’t have many clients,” she says. “I used to drive a few students and families around. During the consultation sessions provided by the program, the consultant advised me to put a sticker on the car so people would know that it’s a taxi for women. My client list has grown quickly since then.”
In addition to driving her taxi, Dhikryat continues to work as a teacher in a private school and provides private lessons for young children in her home.
“I’m now financially independent,” says Dhikryat. “I buy my family all the essentials they need. I’m also committed to paying back the loan through monthly repayments. This project has changed our lives for the better.”
“I’m now planning to expand my business and to buy a bus. I also hope to open my own tutoring centre one day. I would advise for every woman to take the wheel and seize every chance to drive her life to success,” she concludes.