Progressio's country representative in Yemen, Abeer Al-Absi, writes about the elections held on 21 February 2012:
Today, as I voted, I felt part of a Yemeni nation eager for democratic state-building.
In this period of transition for Yemen, support from the international community is crucial to secure a peaceful and stable future for ordinary Yemeni people.
We believe that participation is the first step towards change. Today’s election is really promising for poor and marginalized Yemenis, who will stand better chances of being heard and influencing decisions that directly affect their everyday lives under improved democracy.
With the right international support, change will create space and an opportunity for Yemen to really take development and poverty issues seriously and overcome the many challenges we are facing.
Even though to the outside world the election may seem like a shuffling of chairs, for Yemeni people it is very meaningful. The women, young people, disabled people, people living with HIV and others on the edges of society that Progressio works with have been empowered by this revolution. They are no longer afraid. They now understand that they can shape the future of Yemen and are determined to speak out about their rights.
I’m really proud of what the Yemeni people have achieved. Last year we talked about change and hoped for change. This year we can touch and feel it.
I urge you to keep telling people in the UK about our story. The transition will not be straightforward but it will be worth it. We want peace, stability and better lives for the poorest and most marginalised people in our society and we won’t give up until it is a reality.
Photo: Two elderly women in Yemen are proud to show they have voted in the elections.