The survey also asked about women’s access to assets and credit. Women who were married, divorced, or widowed were asked if they owned any financial savings (such as a house, an apartment, or land), and items of high value (such as jewelry or a car). If they said “yes,” women were asked if they had the right to use or sell it as they please (referred to as “control of the asset” in the figures below).
As can be seen in Figure 18, very few Yemeni women have their own assets that could be drawn upon during times of financial need. Only one in twenty currently or formerly married women report having any financial savings. Four percent of currently or formerly married women have savings they can use as they please and 1% have savings, but cannot spend them independently. Seven percent have land, an apartment, or a house with the title in their name; 4% can use or sell the holdings as they please and 3% do not exercise full control over the asset. The most common assets are items of high value, such as a car or jewelry. Seventeen percent of women own some item of high value and 14% exercise full control over it and 3% do not.
Although few Yemeni women have financial assets, some groups are more likely to have them than others. Figure 19 presents a more detailed analysis of financial savings.
In general, better-educated women are more likely to have savings. While only 3% of women with no formal education have financial savings, 17% of women with a secondary degree or more have some savings. Among this more educated group, two-thirds (11% of ever-married women) have full control over their savings to use them as they would like and one-third (6%) do not.
Women who work for pay are four times more likely to have savings (17%) than women who do not work for pay (4%). While savings was not the primary use of earnings for working women (Figure 14), more working women do manage to build financial savings than nonworking women. Nevertheless, some of these savings are not fully under their control.
More women in urban settings have financial savings (10%) than in small towns (8%) or rural areas (4%). However, the percentage of women with control over these accounts is the same (7%) in urban places and small towns.
Only 5% of currently or formerly married Yemeni women say they can obtain bank loans or other credit without help from a spouse or parent (Figure 20). Once again, there are significant differences among subgroups, some of which appear related to ability to repay the loan.
With educational attainment, access to loans and credit for women in Yemen increases. While only 3% of women with less than a primary level education can obtain credit, 20% of women with secondary or higher education have access. Most strikingly, employment dramatically increases women’s access to credit: 32% of women who work for pay, but only 4% of women who do not, can obtain loans or credit on their own.
Urban-dwelling women are more likely to have access to credit (11%) than women in small towns (8%) or rural areas (4%). By region, women’s access to credit or loans is highest in the Midlands (11%) and Southern (7%) regions and lower in the Northern, Western, and Eastern parts of the country (2% in each).
The survey question asked women whether they could obtain credit or loans on their own without help from family, and women from higher income households have greater access. While 3 to 4% of women from households with incomes below 60,000 riyals per month can obtain loans, 12% of women from households with income of 60,000-99,000 riyals per month and 21% of women from households with income of 100,000 riyals or more per month have access to credit.
Among women who said they have access to credit, the most common source was from relatives (34%, Table 2). Twenty percent said they could get loans or credit from commercial banks, and almost as many said they rely on friends for loans or credit (18%).
Finally, the survey asked women about their general feelings of economic security: “If you were no longer able to depend on your husband’s or family’s income, would you be able to support yourself and your family financially?” Two-thirds of women who were married, widowed, or divorced (67%) said they would not be able to support themselves and their family (Figure 21). Fifteen percent said yes, they could support themselves and their families, or were already doing so. Fourteen percent of women were unsure of their ability to provide financial support for themselves or their family.
Widows and divorced women were more likely to say that they could or were already supporting themselves (24%) than currently married women who were the only wife (14%) or one among several wives (15%).
Education provides some economic security for women with more than a primary degree. While 14% of women with a primary degree think they could support themselves, 41% of women with a secondary or higher education believe they could be financially self-sufficient. While nearly three-quarters (74%)of women with no formal schooling think they could not support themselves on their own, just over a third (35%) of women with a secondary education or higher doubted their economic security.
Two-thirds of women who were working for pay (66%) said they could or were already supporting themselves and their family, compared to 12% of women who were not working for pay.
About a quarter of women each in urban areas (25%) or small towns (24%) expressed confidence in their ability to support themselves, compared to about half as many (12%) women in rural areas.
Women from higher income households were more likely to believe they could support themselves and their family than women from lower income households. While 12% of women in households with incomes below 20,000 riyals per month said they could support themselves, nearly three times as many women in households with incomes over 100,000 riyals per month (35%) said they could do so.