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Activists call for at least 30% women's quota in municipalities, decentralisation bills

By Rana Husseini - May 09,2015 - Last updated at May 09,2015

AMMAN — The women’s movement and civil society have called for including a minimum 30 per cent quota for women in the draft municipalities and decentralisation laws currently in Parliament.

The demands were included in recommendations by women and civil society representatives, and legal experts who convened last Thursday in the presence of Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Khaled Kalaldeh and other government officials.

“The idea behind the meeting was to allow women, civil society and young people to give their opinions regarding these bills in the presence of government officials,” said Salma Nims, secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW).

Nims stressed that allowing all segments of society to discuss these draft laws and give their input “will only work to strengthen the laws once they are approved and ensure fairer women’s representation in government entities”.

Participants also recommended ensuring that the percentage of women in city and executive councils, as well as all committees in government bodies, eventually reach 50 per cent.

MP Reem Abu Dalbouh, president of the Women’s Affairs Committee at the Lower House, was part of a joint committee that toured the governorates to discuss the bills. 

During the event, she said women across the country demanded fairer representation in governorate councils and municipalities and called for including this in the draft laws.

Sahar Aloul, executive director of Taqaddam Platform, a citizen-driven platform advocating for positive social, political and economic change, stressed the need to increase women’s representation in governorates and municipalities as stipulated in international conventions.

“Both draft laws need to emphasise the need for more women’s representation in local councils, by either increasing the quota to 30 per cent, in line with international agreements Jordan has ratified and endorsed, or adopting affirmative measures that will enhance women’s participation and representation in municipal councils,” Aloul said.

The event was organised by JNCW and supported by a European Union programme to support civil society projects in Jordan.

JNCW recently issued a statement stating that the decentralisation bill works to strengthen the role and representation of bigger municipalities and tribes, and marginalise the role of smaller municipalities.

The recommendations also called for guaranteeing that women in rural and remote areas have stronger representation in city and municipal councils.

JNCW added that the government should redraft articles in both laws because they “are male-oriented and only address men without any mention of females in their content”.

Last December, the Cabinet endorsed the preliminary blueprints of the draft by-law governing the decentralisation of governorate councils and the municipalities bill.

The government said the draft law translates the Royal vision on decentralised local government into practical steps to enable municipalities and governorate councils to improve their performance and upgrade the quality of their services.

The government's decentralisation plan is aimed at engaging people in policy and decision making related to their areas as well as achieving sustainable and comprehensive local development.

The decentralisation by-law will become part and parcel of that law and include more oversight and accountability mechanisms.

Under the proposed law, municipalities can form coalitions and implement joint projects.

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