Anthropologist Marina de Regt worked between 1991 and 1998 in two development projects in Yemen.
In 1997 she started her doctoral research into the position of female health workers in basic health-care projects in the harbour city of Hodeidah. In Yemen the paid employment of women outside of the house is often viewed negatively. Despite this, with support from the Dutch government, a large number of women have been trained as health workers in Hodeidah over the past 20 years. These women provide mother and child care in government clinics in the city.
Dutch development workers placed their health workers on a pedestal and saw them as 'agents of change'. However within the hierarchy of the Yemeni Ministry of Health the women occupy a low position. After the completion of the project the women therefore experienced a considerable loss of status. Yet despite this within the space of 15 years their work has become an accepted part of the Yemeni health care system.
On the basis of life stories, De Regt investigated the background and motivations of women in Hodeidah to become health workers. In addition to this she held interviews with project workers and studied project and policy documents. This gave her insight into the different agendas and interests of the Dutch donor (DGIS), the Yemeni government and the female health workers.
The NWO publications subsidy covered the translation and publication costs of De Regt's thesis. The author paid for the printing and distribution costs. With this translation the book is now also accessible for health workers and other Arabic speakers who are interested in women and development.