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Displaced women in Yemen: success through henna art

It's World Refugee Day. In Yemen, war has displaced many people in their own country. The path to building a new life starts with a secure income.


Over 30 million people live in Yemen. Around 4.4 million of them have been forcibly displaced. Many find refuge in other parts of the country and have lost their jobs in addition to everything they once owned. Among them are many women who now suddenly have to provide for their family's income – often without any formal skills. This makes things twice as difficult in a labour market primarily tailored to men.  On behalf of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH supports these women in rebuilding their lives.

Tayeer Amin Hassan Muthanna Atef fled from her home city of Taiz to Mawiyah further east. She was forced to leave everything behind and was unable to finish school. In her new home, she and her family were initially dependent on food donations. A course organised by GIZ helped her to become a self-employed henna artist. Henna art is very popular in Yemen, for example at weddings. Atef now earns her own living: 'For me, it's like a miracle I never expected to happen,' she says, describing her new start. 'The course allowed me to turn my hobby into a profession, and now I have an income for my family and for myself.'


GIZ supports people in Yemen with specific training courses. The courses are carefully selected. Participants can learn skills such as henna art very quickly, and there is high demand in Yemen for it at weddings and holiday celebrations. Henna design therefore gives women a good opportunity to quickly build a business and, in turn, a new life. With newly acquired skills that include carpentry or repairing solar batteries as well as henna art, they can earn money themselves again. This provides support for their entire family. Often, the entire household benefits from the new source of income: in total, the training courses have allowed around 35,800 people to improve their livelihoods.

Tayseer Atef has made a new start. She is one of 4.4 million displaced people in Yemen. According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), more than 100 million people have been displaced by violence.  GIZ works across the globe to improve the lives of displaced people and internally displaced people and also supports host communities.