meet Muaadh, an advocate for deaf women’s rights
Muaadh Al-Soufi, is a grant and partnership officer for the Humanitarian Development Programme at Hail Saeed group in Yemen. A multi-billion-dollar conglomerate established in 1938 in rural Taiz, Muaadh is part of the social responsibility wing serving communities in need across Yemen and the Arab region.
In 2014, Muaadh had the opportunity to contribute to an initiative providing deaf Yemenis with entrepreneurship training and economic empowerment. “It was a unique experience,” describes Muaadh. More than forty trainees, most of whom were women, were trained using adapted techniques such as sign language.
"We used visual aids as part of the training, implementing a specialized e-commerce training course. We created a learning environment suited to their needs, communicating through technology and providing them with advice that has enabled them to move forward with entrepreneurial endeavors," says Muaadh.
Yemeni women are disproportionately impacted by the on-going conflict – bearing the bulk of domestic and care work, while also requiring paid employment to support their household – many becoming the sole income earner due to the death or injury of their men family members. But finding a job is made even more difficult for deaf women, with many lacking access to suitable training, education or safe working environments.
"There have been many appeals not to abandon this group of people, an integral part of our Yemeni society," says Muaadh. Many deaf Yemenis rely on donations, while some are left unable to buy basic necessities.
But Muaadh believes in the potential of deaf Yemenis – women in particular – to help build stronger local economies. "I never doubt the future of Yemeni women, including deaf women. In every home, there is a mother, a wife, a sister…and we see with our eyes how they struggle, whether through work, home, or in their community. My mother is one example. She is 61 years old, yet she is unstoppable!”
"My message to every father, brother and husband is to make women a pillar of this nation - at their best - so that communities can produce an invincible and united generation. But we must bridge the gap with deaf people, integrating them into the community and providing them with jobs so they can help us fight for a better life."