S2 E4. Woman and Change: Activism with Tawakkol Karman, Yemeni Nobel Laureate - Copy

[00:00:00] Section: Podcast introduction

[00:00:00] Overdub: Hello and welcome to season two of The Story of Woman. In today’s world, it can feel like change is happening, but only in the wrong direction. While we agree there’s still a lot of work to do, we’re reframing that story.

[00:00:17] Overdub: I’m your host, Anna Stoecklein and each episode of this season I’ll be exploring how women make change happen from those at the top helping to drive it. We’ll look at where we are on this long march to equality, what lies ahead, and how important you are in the fight.

[00:00:38] Overdub: This isn’t a story of a world that’s doomed to oppress women forever. This is a story of an opportunity to grow stronger than ever before. Exactly as womankind has always done.

[00:00:50] Section: Episode level introduction

[00:00:52] Anna Stoecklein: Hello. Welcome back and thank you as always for being here. Today I speak with [00:01:00] Tawakkol Karman, an extraordinary woman who has been dubbed many names for her pivotal role in the 2011 pro-democracy uprising in Yemen, also known as the Arab Spring.

[00:01:12] Anna Stoecklein: She's been called the Mother of the Revolution, the Iron Woman and the Lady of the Arab Spring. And she even won a Nobel Peace Prize for this work and for her work in the non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in the peace building work that's happening in Yemen. Upon being awarded this prize, TLE became the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate at the time, at the age of 32.

[00:01:45] Anna Stoecklein: She's also been named one of Time magazine's most rebellious woman in history. She's been one of foreign policy magazines top 100 global thinkers for three years. And she's been listed by CNN as one of the most powerful women in the Arab [00:02:00] world, and you will see why that is very shortly.

[00:02:04] Anna Stoecklein: But her work did not start in 2011 with the Arab Spring. As you'll hear us talk about, Tawakkol is a human rights activist and a journalist. In 2005, she founded an organization called Women Journalist Without Chains, where she started reporting on the political instability and the human rights abuses that were happening in Yemen. Around this time, she also began organizing weekly protests in Yemen's Capital, which lasted for years and turned into daily demonstrations and got her arrested for it.

[00:02:37] Anna Stoecklein: You'll hear us talk about all of this today and how her arrest had the opposite effect of what the government was hoping for. No, they did not silence her and we talk about the current situation in Yemen, which is one of the worst humanitarian crises in modern times, and how it stems from the counterrevolution that's been led by Saudi Arabia, [00:03:00] the UAE, and Iran against Yemen, and other countries that are trying to become democracies.

[00:03:06] Anna Stoecklein: Tawakkol speaks directly to those of us outside of Yemen about what's going on inside of the country at the moment, and we talk about what makes Tawakkol proud to be a woman and to be Yemenese. And what keeps her hopeful for the future of her country and the region. This revolution is far from over.

[00:03:27] Anna Stoecklein: You may notice us wrap the conversation real quickly at the end. Tawakkol had to jump off quite suddenly, so that's why. Also why this conversation is slightly shorter than the rest. But when you're changing the course of history for an entire region, and really the world, you tend to be a little busy. So we'll take the time with her that we can get.

[00:03:50] Anna Stoecklein: But that's all for now. Thanks again for being here. If you like what you hear, please do share this conversation with a friend or on [00:04:00] social media or anywhere else, with a stranger on the street. It really, really helps. But for now, please enjoy my conversation with the mother of the Revolution Tawakkol Karman.

[00:04:17] Section: Episode

[00:04:17] Anna Stoecklein: Hi, Tawakkol, welcome. Thank you so much for being here today.

[00:04:21] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you, Anna. I'm so happy to be with you on your podcast. Thank you.

[00:04:25] Anna Stoecklein: And for joining us on your birthday. I just found out it's your birthday, so happy birthday and thank you for spending it with me here today.

[00:04:33] Tawakkol Karman: That's good. That's a good celebration.

[00:04:37] Anna Stoecklein: Good way to celebrate. Excellent.

[00:04:38] Tawakkol Karman: Yeah.

[00:04:39] Anna Stoecklein: So you have such an incredible and powerful story that I can't wait to get into with you today. But I first wanna start off by providing a bit of context to our listeners about the Arab Spring and about what Yemen was like kind of in the years leading up to it.

[00:04:58] Anna Stoecklein: So for any [00:05:00] listeners that might be unfamiliar, the Arab Spring was a wave of pro-democracy protests and uprisings that took place across the Middle East and North Africa around 2011 with millions taking to the streets and challenging some of the region's authoritarian leaders. Tawakkol, feel free to elaborate on that, but I would also love to have you tell us a bit more about what life was like in Yemen in those years leading up to the Arab Spring, some background information of what the country was like and the types of issues that you began demonstrating against.

[00:05:33] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you so much for talking about Arab Spring in this time, while Arab Spring is, you know, suffering from many conspiracy against it that suffer also from counterrevolution led by the, regional powers like Saudi, Emirates and Iran. And suffer from coups, terrorism and Civil War, and many of challenges. [00:06:00]

[00:06:00] Tawakkol Karman: But in general, Arab Spring came as a cry for justice, freedom and democracy. People went to the streets, demonstrate for freeing themselves and freeing their societies from authoritarian regimes, and they did a great work, a great effort, a great revolution against those authoritarian people, against those dictators, in the region, and other people, make a lot of successful steps on, overthrown, on forcing dictators in eight countries to leave the power.

[00:06:35] Tawakkol Karman: Arab Spring is the very strong revolutions for democracy, for freedom, for justice, for equality, for good governance, and it is a continuation, you know, a continual revolution. Didn't stop, didn't die, and didn't lose hope. We still in the battle for freedom and democracy and we will win this battle in the end.

[00:06:58] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. And I [00:07:00] wanna kind of go through the story of what happened after the Arab Spring in 2011 and what you see as a pathway to democracy in the future moving forward. And you've given us a bit of a picture there with the counter revolution, but tell us about what was going on in Yemen right around 2011 time, because you actually began demonstrating a couple years before that even happened in 2011 and, and you saw this kind of taking off across the region. So can you tell us about how you came to start organizing the weekly demonstrations against the government years before this wider revolution began?

[00:07:40] Tawakkol Karman: The welfare, democracy and for freedom came beforethe Arab Spring. And especially my call, you know, for freedom and democracy, I started this thing through my article since maybe 2003, 2004, calling people to refuse the injustice, [00:08:00] to demonstrate against the tyranny and to demonstrate against the wars and the terrorism waged by the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh. And, you know, Yemen was, you know, in the rank to be announced as the failed country under the rule of the dictator, ali Abdullah Saleh.

[00:08:19] Tawakkol Karman: Yemen has a lot of wealth, has a very good geographical position and has a very strong population and has a very strong history, so it doesn't deserve to be portrayed as a failure in our country and also as a country that suffered from poverty and from terrorism, from lack of education, et cetera, et cetera, which is all this was under the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh.

[00:08:48] Tawakkol Karman: So through my journalism work and then through my organization that I established that was called Woman Journalist Without Borders, then the [00:09:00] government closed it and we announce another organization, Woman Journalist Without Chains, so through this organization also, it was my way to criticize the dictatorship in general and the dictator himself, in particular, and to organize many, many activities against him, especially on supporting democracy rights and especially the exposure rights.

[00:09:27] Tawakkol Karman: So my organization, Woman Journalist Without Chains, was the most important gate for me as a journalist and as a human rights activist to stand against dictatorship in Yemen. And then calling for the peaceful revolution against the dictator. And since 2006, until 2011, my organization, Woman Journalist Without Chains, organized weekly demonstration in front of the cabinet, calling for [00:10:00] freedom of expression and for some certain human rights, issues. And we didn't stop this demonstration until we encouraged people to make revolution against the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh..

[00:10:14] Tawakkol Karman: So since May 2006 until February 2011, we didn't stop our weekly demonstration in front of the cabinet every Tuesday, and then it became every Saturday and Tuesday, and then every Saturday, Monday and Tuesday until it became daily demonstration raising the slogan of "Peaceful Revolution against the Dictator."

[00:10:40] Tawakkol Karman: So this is a summary of my work before the revolution. But the revolution itself, it came by the people of Yemen, by Yemeni people, by women in Yemen, by youth in Yemen. We decided to make the revolution against the dictator. In the beginning of January 14, [00:11:00] after the winning of the Tunisia Revolution against Ben Ali, we announced our formal revolution in February 11th, 2011.

[00:11:10] Tawakkol Karman: It was the biggest announcement that all Yemeni people from most of the governors go to the street chanting that people want this corrupt and tyranny to leave the authority. It is not just one time in 2011. It's from a lot of steps and a lot of struggle before that. But 2011, as the year of Arab Spring, became our opportunity to announce formally our great revolution against the dictator.

[00:11:43] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely there was so much, so much leading up to that. And the dictator himself had been in power for 33 years up until that time as well. So this was no short stint that he had been around. And you yourself, with all of your work [00:12:00] demonstrating and organizing, you were actually imprisoned for all of that. Can you tell us about what that was like and what kind of impact that had on the movement?

[00:12:12] Tawakkol Karman: Prison itself it's the biggest mistake that the dictator committed.Many times he arrested me, since 2006 until the revolution begin. As I told you, there is two times of the revolution. The revolution started in 15 January, 2011, but it's formally announced in February 11 when terror and other governments follow us and follow Sana'a, capital in this great revolution.

[00:12:41] Tawakkol Karman: But the biggest arrest was in 22 January, 2011. When they kidnapped me from the street and put me in the woman prison. Before that, that was some small arrested. They accused me that I want to travel the regime and I am [00:13:00] belonging to illegitimate organization that attacked the Republic, et cetera, et cetera. They thought that they will shut my voice up and they will stop me from organizing the students, especially the students of Sana'a University, and other human rights activists and other victims and people, Yemeni people, to be with us in the revolution, but they made the opposite.

[00:13:23] Tawakkol Karman: My voice become stronger and reached to most of Yemeni government rates. And Yemeni people went to the street demonstrating raising my photo. Calling for my freedom and at the same time chanting the same chant that I was chanting I was angry because they kidnapped me. They arrested me. My house is near to the police station.

[00:13:48] Tawakkol Karman: They can call me and I will go. They didn't need to kidnap me from the street. But at the same time, at that time, I said, okay, this is the biggest opportunity for any [00:14:00] person that really suffer and call for freedom and justice. They think that the prison will hide him while the prison is making him or her very strong, and that is what happened with my voice.

[00:14:14] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely. It helped ignite the spark and really backfired on the people who arrested you and all of it also got you really known, I mean, all of your work and the imprisonment and everything that came after, you know you're called as The Mother of the Revolution, The Iron Woman, The Lady of Arab Spring, and you got a Nobel Peace Prize from it in 2011 as well right, which is just incredible.

[00:14:39] Tawakkol Karman: It is not just my struggle, it's the struggle of only Yemeni people, all women in Arab Spring countries. It's the dream of Arab people to have their freedom and democracy. I am only, you know, their voice. I'm so proud that I started this call from early.

[00:14:57] Tawakkol Karman: But it is really the desire of [00:15:00] every person in our country, in our region, that we want freedom, we want democracy, we want rule of law. And any chance that we will be able to come together to rise our voice against this injustice, we'll take it. And this is what happened in Arab Spring, and this is what happened in Yemen, as I told you even before the revolution. I was very well known in Yemen and people in Yemen was really, really respected me a lot.

[00:15:27] Tawakkol Karman: As a woman that represent their demands, that represent their views for a new country, they said that Yemen is a conservative country and which is right, and Yemeni people doesn't accept the rule of women, which was right under the rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh. But in the reality, no, Yemen was ruled two Great queens and Yemeni people are so proud of their Queen of Sheba and Queen Arwa and there is other queens. And also Yemen accepted my rule as [00:16:00] Tawakkol Karman from 2005 they accepted my rule as one of the people that give them power that can lead them. I am so proud of Yemeni people that they accept me as a woman.

[00:16:12] Tawakkol Karman: There was a lot of challenges from the dictator, from the traditional, from the religious people, but the real people, the real society was waiting for me and was believing on me and following me and helping me and support me a lot. So this is a collective victory, not just for me. It's a collective victory.

[00:16:35] Anna Stoecklein: Absolutely, absolutely a collective victory, but they're amplifying your voice. You're amplifying theirs. It's beautiful how you just laid all of that out. And I definitely wanna get into the important role that women played in the Arab Spring in Yemen and beyond. But I kind of just wanna finish off the story first of what happened.

[00:16:54] Anna Stoecklein: We talked a bit about what it was like in the lead up to 2011 and how it was years in [00:17:00] the making, and then you had these uprisings all across the region. And then you mentioned in the beginning the counter revolution. So can you kind of just walk us through what happened from there from 2011 onwards with the president stepping down? You know, there was the beginning of a national dialogue happening, but then you had some outside forces coming in, and this is when the counter revolution began and it led to the war and the crisis that's currently going on.

[00:17:28] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you, Anna, for your good questions. You know a lot about Yemen because you are talking about the national dialogue that followed the stepping down of the dictator. Anna, we did a great revolution, peaceful revolution against the dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh. And Yemen is an armed society, own more than 70 million pieces of weapons.

[00:17:53] Tawakkol Karman: All Yemeni people, the tribes, the people, or they didn't use their weapons in front of all [00:18:00] the kind of violence was practiced by the dictator. And because of that, because our peaceful method, we succeeded in this great revolution. And we pushed the dictator Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign after about one year of daily demonstration, after sleeping in the streets, in the tents, et cetera, et cetera. We gathered all Yemeni people in the change squares and freedom squares, even from the tribes that they fought each other for decades.

[00:18:33] Tawakkol Karman: So all that thing make Yemeni people work very hard to enter to the transitional period peacefully and to accept each other. In the transitional period. So we did a great transitional period. We organized national dialogue. The national dialogue we gathered most of the Yemeni parties, tribes, even Houthi Militia we invited them to be [00:19:00] with us in this national dialogue. Even the party of the dictator, Ali Abdullah Saleh, we invite them to be in part of this national dialogue and we did a great, a great national dialogue continued for about one year.

[00:19:14] Tawakkol Karman: And with this national dialogue we produced draft of Constitution. This draft of Constitution guaranteed most of the demands of people for democracy, for human rights, and for good governance, and also for women's rights, kids rights, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:19:33] Tawakkol Karman: So that was the biggest victory that we did, the national dialogue, and the draft of Constitution. And we were just steps, steps to go to take this to the referendum and to make the election and all these things make our neighbors ruled by other tyrannies, by monarchies, who doesn't like democracy, be [00:20:00] really very afraid from the revolution itself, and also very afraid from, okay, Yemen is just now has steps to enter to the future. To be a really democratic country and how this very important and very big country, the rich country in the history and in resources, and to be in addition to that, to be a democracic, that will be something very bad to them as they think.

[00:20:27] Tawakkol Karman: So Saudi and Emirates and Iran conspired against our revolution and led counter revolution in Yemen, and also the same thing with other you know countries in Syria, in Egypt, in Tunis, and Libya, and they are the head of the counter revolution that doesn't want people to win in their battle of democracy.

[00:20:50] Tawakkol Karman: As you know, there is a big differences between Saudi Arabia and Iran. There is a big difference and there is big fight between them, but they are [00:21:00] in agreement, direct agreement, or indirect agreement that our countries shouldn't be democratic. So they are against our people and they waged all kind of revenge against people in Arab spring countries, against the revolution of Arab spring countries, and against the revolutionary people themselves.

[00:21:22] Tawakkol Karman: Iran supported the Houthi Militia on their coup. Saudi and Emirates waged war against Yemen. And since that, since September 2014, which is the coup of the coup, the Houthi Militia coup, supported by iran, then 2015 in March, the War of Saudi and Emirates, it's a kind of revenge against Yemeni people, against their will of democracy. And until now we are suffering from this counterrevolution revenge.

[00:21:51] Tawakkol Karman: But Yemeni people are stronger than them and they will defeat these two projects. That project of Saudi and Emirates [00:22:00] and the project of Iran in Yemen. The same thing in Egypt, the same thing in Syria, in Tunis, in Libya, in Sudan. All the countries suffer from this counter revolution, from the revenge of those dictators in the region. Uh, I guess the people who really want democracy and peace in their countries.

[00:22:20] Anna Stoecklein: Uh, and it's just absolutely, I mean, it's been years now that has led to the worst humanitarian crisis of modern times, what it's been called, what's going on in Yemen at the moment currently. And one UN estimate says that the war has left nearly 80% of the country's population in need of some form of assistance. About 21.6 million people requiring humanitarian assistance, 12.9 million of those being children. Damaged food systems, local infrastructure, the economy, education. I'm wondering what you would want people outside of Yemen to know [00:23:00] about what's currently going on inside of the country?

[00:23:04] Tawakkol Karman: The humanitarian crisis is a result of this ugly war, the ugly war waged by Saudi, Emirates, and Iran. And what the international community should know, what the people around the world should know, that Yemen suffer from internal occupation led by Houthi Militia, backed by Iran, and from external occupation, led by Saudi and Emirates. So this is very important to know what is happening in Yemen.

[00:23:39] Tawakkol Karman: Unfortunately, some people, they said, or some media out, they said that, yes, Yemen is uh, suffering from war led by Saudi. And some of them they said it's the Houthi Militia and Iran. No, we are suffering from both. From both and both of them. [00:24:00] They are destroying Yemen, both of them, they are killing Yemenis. Both of them, they are the cause of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen. And both of them doesn't want Yemen to be a democratic country.

[00:24:13] Tawakkol Karman: And now the worst thing is that the Saudi and Emirates, they are not just waging the war against Yemen, it is just, you know, missiles between them and Houthis. No, they are occupying the lands, the airports, the ports, and they are supporting another militias. They said that they want to help Yemenis against the Houthi Militia while they are supporting another militias that is this militias, or they're just loyal to Saudi and Emirates, not to the Yemeni government or Yemeni authority.

[00:24:50] Tawakkol Karman: They are Saudi and Emirates toppled the legitimate authority and they produced another council that doesn't [00:25:00] represent, they said it is the residency council. While this residency council doesn't represent Yemenis, they are only represent the Saudi and Emirates interests in Yemen, their occupation of Yemen. So this is what is happening in Yemen.

[00:25:16] Tawakkol Karman: So anyone want to make solution help Yemenis on their battle against the war, they have to help them, to support them, to stop the hegemony and the guardianship of Saudi and Emirates, and their recreation should be stopped now, the same thing with Houthi Militia, that they have to stop their coup. They have to hand over their weapons.

[00:25:39] Tawakkol Karman: All the militia weapons should be withdraw. Only the Yemen country, the Yemen government, the Yemen authority, should be the only body of the country that possess the weapons, not the militias. And also the economy solution, they have to help Yemen to rebuild the Yemen, the [00:26:00] reconstruction.

[00:26:00] Tawakkol Karman: And the same thing also, the transitional justice is very important. It's very important. The war criminals should face justice, and also we should guarantee that those crimes will not repeat again. So there is a comprehensive recipe for stopping war in Yemen, stopping war in Yemen. It doesn't mean that stopping the missiles between Houthi and Saudis, it's bigger than that.

[00:26:29] Tawakkol Karman: That is just a temporary truce between Saudi and Houthi. But that doesn't mean that the war in Yemen stopped.

[00:26:38] Anna Stoecklein: So that's a lot of what needs to be done to just stop that war. And then on top of that, it's finishing what you started and actually carving that path to a Democratic Yemen.

[00:26:50] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you, Anna, for saying that. Thank you so much, and this is very important point and we should start it again from the point that we [00:27:00] stopped, which is the draft of the constitution should go to the referendum and the election should be organized again.

[00:27:08] Tawakkol Karman: So this is a very important because there is some solutions that ignore that. So now we are calling for sustainable peace and democracy in Yemen. Not a temporary truce that will maybe make another chance for another ugly war in Yemen. I am with truth, but truth that will really make the way is easy to reach to the sustainable, peace and democracy.

[00:27:38] Anna Stoecklein: So what do you think that path looks like? That's what needs to be done, but is there anything that you can say to how to get there?

[00:27:47] Tawakkol Karman: When I explain what is the current situation and how Yemeni people suffer, what the counter revolution did to my country and et cetera, it doesn't mean that we fail in this battle. [00:28:00] No. It means that we still in the bottom of this battle. We didn't give up and we will not give up. And really, I am so proud of Yemeni people because Yemeni people didn't give up in front of all this projects, in front of Saudi, Emirates war, and Houthi Militia coup.

[00:28:21] Tawakkol Karman: Yemeni people are there and Yemen, yes, it suffer from the humanitarian crisis, from all this war, but Yemeni people still so strong in the field. They are also the social link between Yemeni people become stronger and stronger. And Yemen people also lead their country from inside the country. It's amazing, amazing when you go to the country, to the cities and you see how Yemeni many people doing, you know, in their daily life, without a government, without authority under the war, under the coup, you [00:29:00] will be so proud of this country that doesn't really destroy it from inside.

[00:29:05] Tawakkol Karman: I am so optimistic in the future. I am so optimistic even in the currents because Yemeni people know now really their enemies. And this is very important for anything, for any victory to know who is the one who make the obstacles, who want to destroy you.

[00:29:24] Tawakkol Karman: Why I am saying that? Because before some people said, no, Saudi and Emirates doesn't want, you know, to destroy Yemen. They want to help the Yemenis. And some of them said before, no, Houthi doesn't want, and they are against Saudi. The scene was not clear as now. So Yemen, people now really know what is happening and really know how to solve this problem.

[00:29:50] Tawakkol Karman: So Yemeni people now is coming together, working together again, and will produce another solution. You will be [00:30:00] surprised by the new solution that Yemeni people are preparing now to face both, outsider agenda in Yemen. Iran, which supported Houthi Militia and Saudi and Emirates. And so I'm optimistic. So the solution is there, but we are working on it.

[00:30:17] Anna Stoecklein: Incredible. Yeah. You're working on it. I heard you talk about as well, how the Arab Spring comes in waves, 2011, 2019, there'll be a third and that'll just continue until there are no more dictators. And I've also heard you say this quote, which I like, which is "Change toward democracy and freedom is not only possible, it is inevitable." so I'm really inspired by the hope and optimism that you hold.

[00:30:41] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you, Anna. And this is also something I want to also to focus on when they decide with the Counter Revolution countries, Saudi, Emirates and Iran, when they decided to revenge against our people, they wanted to send message to all Arab people in general.[00:31:00]

[00:31:00] Tawakkol Karman: In 2011, we revolt against the dictators in Yemen, in Syria, in Libya, in Egypt, and in Tunis, in just five countries. And they make revenge against us, which take many faces. They supported military coup in Egypt, for example. that produced El-Sisi. They supported terrorism in Syria, in Libya, with ISIS, also with Hefta. They supported Houthi militia in Yemen, and the wage war in Yemen and in Tunis. They supported the counter revolution that produced he side. So the counter revolution take many, many, many faces that produced this chaos. War, people enter to the prison, thousands of people, they killed thousands, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:31:49] Tawakkol Karman: So when they make these brutal things against people of these countries, they wanted to send messages to their people in their countries and to other [00:32:00] people in the countries that didn't revolt. That look, what is the destiny of revolution? It's chaos, it's civil war, it's military coup, it's terrorism, it's division, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:32:13] Tawakkol Karman: But what was the answer from the people? There was another answer in 2019, which is another revolutions. The second revive of revolutions in Sudan, in Algeria. It started also in Lebanon and Iraq, but Corona came. So, we changed even, you know, Bashir in Sudan we changed Bouteflika in Algeria. And so you should expect more revolutions in coming years.

[00:32:42] Tawakkol Karman: So people didn't stop their dream, also didn't become afraid from the revenge. No. They give them more belief that they are in the right side of the history. So we will not give up. Arab Spring will not finish. Yes, the counter [00:33:00] revolution win in this turn, but it is a fake winning. It's a fake winning.

[00:33:07] Tawakkol Karman: People will not lose their dream, their suffer and their struggle and their desire and insisting to win the battle. And we know all the people know who read the history know that after every great revolution there is a counter revolution. So this happened in all the revolutions around the world. So we are facing the same thing, but of course we will reach to the destiny of democracy.

[00:33:32] Anna Stoecklein: Incredible. Incredible. So switching gears for a minute here, I wanna talk about women. You have said that "behind every great revolution there are brave women". Can you tell us what did you mean by that and what was women's role in all of this, everything that we've been talking about?

[00:33:52] Tawakkol Karman: The women's role in the revolution was iconic. Without the real participation of women in the Arab Spring, [00:34:00] and now in front of all the chaos that is waged by the counter revolution, we wouldn't win that battle. When we overthrow Ali Abdullah Saleh in Yemen, Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, Muammar Gaddafi in Libya and Ben Ali in Tunis and as I said, al-Bashir in Sudan, and Budha in Nigeria and so on.

[00:34:23] Tawakkol Karman: So women was really, really in the main field of revolution in all the details, in the political field, in the leading the streets, in the health field. And of also in the transitional period, women really lead most of the details. So yes, behind every great revolution there is a brave woman. There are many brave women that lead and that also ignited, you know, that calls people for making this revolution.

[00:34:59] Tawakkol Karman: But the [00:35:00] question, what is the destiny of women after winning this battle? Unfortunately, after revolutions, men came and hijacked the revolution and taking the leadership. And this is wrong. And I think we in the Arabs Spring countries started to stop that.

[00:35:18] Tawakkol Karman: In Yemen, for example, Yemeni women, as they lead the revolution, we lead the transitional period, we lead the national dialogue, we lead the Constitution, and we put in the Constitution many guarantees that women will be there everywhere, in every field.

[00:35:37] Tawakkol Karman: So I am so proud of the role of women in all Arab countries, in all the world, especially, you know that the world that suffer from the crisis and wars like now in Ukraine, have women in Ukraine play a very great role on freeing their country from the occupation of Russia and from the war of Russia.

[00:35:57] Tawakkol Karman: So yes, I'm so [00:36:00] proud to be a woman and I am so proud to be one of those women that make changes in their countries and, in the world. And nothing for me is important than leading revolutions. So this is the most dangerous and the most important role and duty for women to fulfill.

[00:36:21] Anna Stoecklein: Yeah. And women and the youth were, yeah, very much leading the charge here on this one. So I'm wondering then, what do you hope will be most different when you look at the position of women in society today? What do you hope will be most different for Yemenese women in 10 years time?

[00:36:38] Tawakkol Karman: First to have a country. So to have a country, it is the most important thing for women, to have a state, because the state now is not there. The state now is under the hands of Saudi, Emirates and Iran. Under the hands of the militias. So [00:37:00] we couldn't speak about women's rights as the part, we need a state that women and men can live in it.

[00:37:09] Tawakkol Karman: So having a state, having a democratic state, having a unified state, because the agenda of Saudi and Emirates especially, they want to divide Yemen. And women in Yemen doesn't accept that and will not accept that. They want to divide Yemen. They want to destroy Yemen. So what women in Yemen want? We want to free our country and not we want, we are working on that, we are leading that path on freeing our country from Saudi, from Emirates, from this occupation, from this ugly war, and also from the militia coup.

[00:37:52] Tawakkol Karman: So to rebuild our Yemen that will gather all Yemeni people from all [00:38:00] sects, this is what we are working for. It is to rebuild Yemen, to build a new Yemen, a democratic Yemen, a unified Yemen. It's to fire all the outsiders from our country and to put our referendum in our draft of Constitution to the referendum. And because we know that, the constitution that we as women wrote will give all Yemeni women their rights. All Yemeni citizen, not just Yemeni women, all Yemeni citizen, their rights.

[00:38:35] Anna Stoecklein: Wonderful Tawakkol, thank you so much for your time today. Happy birthday to you and thank you for all of your incredible work. It was lovely speaking with you, thanks so much.

[00:38:44] Tawakkol Karman: Thank you, Anna. And I hope that, uh, someday and it may be very soon, I will invite you to my house in Yemen and you will see how Yemen is great and how we will be able to rebuild our country.

[00:38:58] Overdub: Thanks for listening. [00:39:00] If you’ve enjoyed this episode, and think we need more of women’s stories in the world, be sure to share with a friend! And subscribe, rate and review on Apple, Spotify or wherever you listen to help us beat those pesky algorithms.

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[00:39:42] Overdub: And in exchange, you’ll receive my eternal gratitude and good nights sleep knowing you are helping to finally change the story of mankind to the story of humankind.

[00:39:53] Overdub: This episode was produced and hosted by me, Anna Stoecklein.

[00:39:57] Overdub: It was edited by Maddy Searle. [00:40:00] With communications support by Jo Cummings.A special thanks to Amanda Brown, Kate York, and Dan Kendall for their ongoing production support and invaluable advising.

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