Families and tribes care for their sick, handicapped, unemployed, and widows and orphans. Those without family or tribal ties beg or have recourse to Islamic pious foundations (waqfs). The state operates orphanages and finances other welfare measures. A provident fund system provides old age, disability, survivor, and workers' compensation benefits. This program covers all employees, including Yemeni nationals working overseas. Workers contribute 6% of their wages, and employers pay 9% of payrolls. Old age benefits are paid as a one lump sum equivalent to 2.5% of earnings multiplied by the number of years worked. A health insurance program exists only for public employees. While the government has expanded its role in providing assistance, traditional means still predominate.
Women face considerable official and social discrimination. Polygamy is legal, and the practice of paying large dowries continues to be widespread. Women are required to obtain permission from a male member of the family in order to leave the house, and are rarely allowed to travel unaccompanied. Women have limited access to education. Conservative estimates place the illiteracy rate for women at 76%, compared with 40– 50% for men. Women in southern Yemen typically have a higher level of educational attainment than those in the north. Child marriage is common, and some girls marry as early as 12 years old. Women are permitted to vote, but social customs discourage most women from becoming politically active. Violence against women and children is prevalent but considered a family issue and not reported to authorities.
Although reports of arbitrary arrest and detention continue, Yemen's human rights record has improved in some areas in recent years. In the same year, three security officers were convicted of human rights abuses. International and domestic human rights organizations operate in Yemen.