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Career Aspirations - Yemen

Despite very low rates of formal employment reported (see “Paid Work and Control of Earnings & Assets” Topic Brief), many women (45%) and men (69%) under age 25 say they plan to pursue a career. In addition, 20% of men and 1% of women in this age group reported that they were already working toward a career. As with educational aspirations, there are marked differences among women in Yemen when it comes to career aspirations (Figure 5).

Although 58% of unmarried women under age 25 either intend to pursue a career or already work in their chosen field, fewer than a third of married women (29%) say they would like to pursue a career. Since this question was only asked of respondents in the youngest age group, 18 to 24, differences in attitudes and behaviors between married and unmarried women cannot be attributed to different age profiles among the groups (Figure 5).

Young urban-dwelling women are much more likely than rural women in the same age group to say they intend to pursue a career or are already doing so. Whereas 38% of women living in rural areas say they intend to pursue a career, 63% of urban women either already work in a career or plan to in the future (Figure 5).

Career aspirations for young women in the Northern (61%) and Southern (56%) regions exceed fifty percent. In the Eastern part of the country, barely one in five young women plans to have a career (20%) (Figure 5).

As shown in Figure 6, women’s career aspirations are related to the level of education they have achieved. Only 24% of women under age 25 without any formal schooling intend to pursue a career, but among women who have completed primary school, 41% have career aspirations. Nearly three out of four (74%) of those who have finished secondary school would like to pursue a career. While there are only seven women under age 25 who have completed a postsecondary degree, all of them plan to pursue a career.

Among women who indicated they were interested in pursuing a career and had a particular career in mind, the most popular prospective occupation was Teacher (37%), followed by Dressmaker/Embroiderer (11%) and Doctor (11%), as Table 3 shows. Nearly the same number of respondents simply replied “Any job” or “Doctor” when asked about their career choice. Seven percent of women would like to pursue a career in nursing. The fact that the non-professional occupation of clothing alteration is among the most popular career paths suggests that it is not only the highly-educated elite that aspires toward having a career, but also those considering work in the trades or handicrafts.

Among Yemeni women who stated that they did not intend to pursue a career, 31% specified that they would not pursue a career because their parents or husband would not allow them to work. Twenty-nine percent of the women surveyed responded that they would prefer to be homemakers or spend time raising their children. Twelve percent said that they did not plan to have a career because jobs are scarce or not available (Table 4). For more information on actual labor force participation in Yemen, please see the “Paid Work and Control of Earnings and Assets” Topic Brief.