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‘Allowing men to stay at home is just as important as women’s right to work’

By Maram Kayed - Nov 21,2018 - Last updated at Nov 21,2018

AMMAN — “Men should have their own freedom movement, especially in the Middle East,” said Sociology Professor Yakin Ertork at a conference held on Wednesday at the University of Jordan to launch her study titled “Family Rules”.

The Turkish professor put forward arguments which she said “were a different way to look at equality”, most important of which was that men giving up their power is a faster way to achieve equality than women fighting for equal power.

“Men have two burdens here in Jordan and other Middle Eastern countries: putting food on the table, and protecting their family,” she continued, saying: “A man cannot wake up one day and say ‘I do not feel like working today’ because he is the chief supporter for the family.”

Ertork’s work, therefore, suggests that men should give up those “privileges” that are usually a result of male dominance, calling them “burdens” instead.

The conference comes as part of a campaign called “Equality Starts in the Family”, which is a global advocacy campaign launched by the Women’s Learning Partnership to reform discriminatory laws and practices. 

The campaign focuses on “reforming the unequal status within the home which upholds the inequalities outside of it, including in areas of education, livelihood, and politics”, as stated by a report at the launch. 

The report stated that the conference comes as a platform for “building a global movement to reform laws and end discrimination within the family”, as its main discussion was that allowing men to stay at home is just as important as women’s right to work. 

“People forget that the whole idea behind feminism is that men and women should be equal, but sometimes in the Middle East we notice that we focus on getting our rights and then we forget to actually use them. So men and women strive to work, but they both forget they have the right not to,” said Alaa Zeiter, a women’s rights specialist at an NGO. 

Lively discussions took place in which students shared their opinions, such as Loai Natshe, who said “I would like the idea of sharing my future house’s expenses with my working wife, I think that would be more fair.”

“I would pay a share in house and children’s expenses only if my husband does his share of cooking and house chores. It goes both ways,” said Rama Hassan, another student.

Held by the Sisterhood Is Global Institute in partnership with the University of Jordan, legal, women studies and sociology professors were present to offer their own research in the gender equality sector, each in relation to their major.

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