Taxi in Yemen.

Taxi in Yemen via Radio Netherlands Worldwide.

In recent years, women-only taxi services offering convenient and safe transit have sprung up in major cities all over the globe. These “pink taxis,” driven by women for women, offer a variety of benefits — not only giving women the option of avoiding harassment by male drivers, but also offer employment opportunities, business ownership, and in some cases, empowered transit in funky, candy pink rides decked out with lady magazines, beauty kits, and alarm buttons.

In Beirut, they’re styled as fierce competition to the standard transit system, brought about by one woman’s entrepreneurial vision, and follows similar models set up in Dubai, Cairo and Tehran. In Kuwait and London they’re “women-run businesses” offering “secure modes of transit” helping female customers feel less vulnerable when riding alone with a male driver. Moscow’s taxis are all about girl power, while Mexico City’s pink taxis are fantastically “girly” while helping address the problem of leering male drivers. But Yemen? Yemen doesn’t have a women-only taxi service and that’s because Yemen is too tribal and slow to change, to even consider allowing women to drive taxis.

Well, that’s according to a recent article by Radio Netherlands Worldwide. While initially promising (and Fugees inspiring), the title completely mislead me into thinking a new, pink revolution had already hit the streets of Sana’a: “Pink taxis for Yemen: ready or not.” Apparently, not.

It didn’t take long to realize the point of the article was not to celebrate a new social and entrepreneurial opportunity for women — but to use the absence of pink taxis as a social commentary, highlighting gender segregation and the restriction of women’s employment due to “tribal tradition.”

The article leads by over-emphasizing Yemen’s culture of gender segregation. “Men and women practically lead separate lives,” with segregated weddings, women-only Internet cafes, and asks, “if so many places have separate facilities for women, then why are there no women-only taxis?” It’s a fair enough question. Taking a taxi with a male driver is awkward for many women and while not every male driver is a predator, there are many documented cases of sexual harassment by taxi drivers in Yemen. So in a country that is so obviously divided upon gender lines, why hasn’t segregation entered into the transportation sector?


Hello everyone! It’s Friday, and that means it’s time for another edition of the Muslim roundup! This week we’re looking at seriously fierce and awesome women. Rawr.


1) You may have already seen this brilliant aricle by the amazing Mona Eltahawy — but how could I ignore a mention of Yemen, women and revolution all in one place? In Revolutionary Woman vs Burqa Woman, Mona takes on al-Qaeda’s online magazine for women, as an unrealistic source for role models.

How can you buy into “SPF-niqab” in the face of completely mindblasting women like Tawakul Karaman, “one of Time magazine’s 16 of History’s Most Rebellious Women.”

According to Eltahawy, Karaman was the first Yemeni female journalist to remove her face veil on the job, she defends human rights and freedom of expression as chair of Women Journalists without Chains, and has been protesting outside of Sanaa University every Tuesday since 2007.

Who do you think young Muslim women are most drawn to? Al Qaeda’s out-of-sight “Majestic Woman” or a woman whose fierce majesty poses one of the most serious challenges to a dictator in 33 years?

One guess. Go on…

2) Sadaf Syed. Mother. Photographer. Published Author.

The news that she met with President Obama last year (on August 13, Eryn’s birthday!) has been floating around for a while.

Sadaf Syed traveled across America, took amazing photos of hijabi women living their daily, normal, all-American-Muslim, rockstar, surfer, make-up artist, boxer, doctor, teacher, fun lives and pulled them together in her book, iCover: A Day in the Life of a Muslim-American COVERed Girl. The pictures are sunning (caution: heavy loading).

But I recently came across her photo documentary on YouTube. I highly suggest you check it out.


While breaking down stereotypes and misconceptions of Muslim women during Islamic Awareness Week in Birmingham, visitors learn that Muslim women ‘choose’ to wear hijab.

Students at the University of North Carolina “unveil” the meaning of the Muslim hijab by participating in an experiment of wearing hijab for the day. I wonder if any guys volunteered.

Altmuslimah explores the women of the Arab revolutions in a post on how Muslim women remake their image. Weak, silent, victimized, clothing-stands no more!

4) Finally, the winners of the Women’s Voices Now Film Festival have been announced. I’ve mentioned this festival before — giving voice to women of all faiths living in Muslim-majority countries and Muslim women living as minorities around the world — but if you haven’t checked it out yet, do so now!

Breaking the Silence – winner Second place, Documentary, by Ammar Basha, Yemen

The ‘Akhdam’ singular Khadem, meaning “servant” in Arabic, are a social group in Yemen, distinct from the majority by their darker skin and African descent. Although they are Arabic-speaking and practicing Muslims, they are regarded as non-Arabs and designated as a low caste group, frequently discriminated against and confined to unskilled and menial labor. In a society already riddled with patriarchy and poverty, the distain and discrimination against the Akhdam renders Akhdam women easy targets of violence and abuse. Akhdam women are subject to hate-based attacks and sexual assaults without any type of legal or social recourse.