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Gov’t-civil society collaboration vital for women empowerment — Lattouf

Fontana says support to women prominent feature of EU Support Programme

By Rana Husseini - Oct 26,2017 - Last updated at Oct 26,2017

AMMAN — Minister of Social Development Hala Lattouf on Wednesday said strong collaboration should be maintained between the government and civil society organisations working on gender issues.

“We constantly strive to support and empower the civil society and have allocated JD2 million annually for this purpose,” Lattouf said.

The minister’s remarks were made during a one-day workshop on “Strengthening Capacities of Women Organisations” that was organised by the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe, in partnership with Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD).

However, the minster was quick to add that “the government wants to ensure that the support for civil organisations is equal and should reach all the institutes that work on promoting human rights and gender equality”.

“We have to focus, in collaboration with the civil society, on some of the main problems in our society such as early marriage, drugs, the high unemployment rate among women, the modest rate of women in the political and economic spheres and the gender gap in the salaries,” Lattouf told the gathering.

The minister pointed out to a number of positive legislative changes related to women that occurred in Jordan, as well as success stories in other fields such as judges, inventors, ministers, engineers among many other professions that increased their presence in the social and political fields.

“These successes could not have been achieved without the noticeable collaboration between the government and civil and grassroots organisations,” Lattouf told the gathering.

Lattouf called on the organisers and participants, most of whom are experts in the gender and civil society movement, to “make use of the workshop and come up with recommendations that the ministry is happy to implement if possible”.

The workshop aimed at encouraging the exchange of knowledge and practices between Jordan and the European and Southern Mediterranean countries on empowerment of women and the promotion of women’s rights through strengthening capacities of women organisations, said ARDD co-founder and CEO Samar Muhareb.

The workshop also aims to ensure dialogue and articulation between various parties of the quadrilogue, as well as emphasising the contribution of women’s civil society organisations and issuing practical recommendations to achieve gender equality in the European and Southern Mediterranean regions, Muhareb told the gathering

“Working for the empowerment of women in Jordan is one of the core pillars of ARDD’s mission. So, building the capacities of women-led organisations is essential,” Muhareb added.

While Jordanian civil society can do a lot in this regard, Muhareb continued, support is also needed from “government institutions and the international community, like the Council of Europe. This is why we must engage in dialogue and exchange ideas on achieving progress together.”

President of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe Jean-Marie Heydt added during the opening session that “it remains essential to listen to the needs of the beneficiaries and to learn from their experiences and benefit from the expertise of those who are working in the field in contact with women and women organisations”.

It is then, with a particular attention to the context and needs of beneficiaries, from global challenges to geographical specificities, related to “political and strategic recommendations, that the North-South Centre envisages its action”, Heydt maintained.

Senator Sawsan Majali also addressed the gathering saying that “the civil society is not united and most of the organisations work individually rather than collaborating on important issues. All their work revolves around funding”.

Another obstacle, according to Majali, is that the “strategies are drafted at all levels, including women, but we fail in applying them”.

That is why it is important for civil society to collaborate among each other and with the government on certain topics to ensure success, she added.

EU Ambassador to Jordan Andrea Matteo Fontana spoke at a panel on “Promoting Participatory and Transversal Approach: The Jordanian Case” saying that women’s organisations shoulder a vital role in achieving inclusive sustainable development.

“They are also one of the key building blocks necessary to ensure empowering women and strengthening their voice and participation at all levels of society to eventually enhance and protect their rights,” Fontana told the gathering.

Fontana added that the EU realises the challenges facing women in Jordan, specifically when “we see the low participation rates in different key spheres of life, including labour market, decision-making process, as well as political and public participation”.

Accordingly, support to women and gender equality has been a prominent feature of the EU Support Programme in Jordan, according to Fontana.

He pointed to one of many civil society programmes being supported by the EU under the title “Support to Civil Society in Jordan” that aims at strengthening democracy in Jordan through increased participation of citizens in political life and through increased independence, quality, credibility of media and CSOs.

“As part of this project, around 60 per cent of total civil society grantees have implemented interventions related to women empowerment in different areas of Jordan, while around 25 per cent have implemented interventions around political, social, cultural and human rights,” according to Fontana.

Meanwhile, Jerash Deputy Wafa Bani Mustafa said that “the government is still not serious about including women in decision-making positions despite the tireless work of the civil society in this regard”.

“We want our government to really believe in gender equality and not to appoint women in few decision-making positions. Women should be present in all spheres of life in equal roles as men,” Bani Mustafa stressed.

The event was also supported by the Jordanian National Commission for Women and financed by the government of Portugal.

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