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Advancement of Jordanian women

Jul 11,2019 - Last updated at Jul 11,2019

Following up on the Jordanian policy and successive governments' march over the past two decades will undoubtedly reveal to us that Jordan has embarked on a radical and comprehensive restructuring of women's affairs. To do so, Jordan has made steady steps towards bridging the gender gap, either at the legislative level or in the empowerment of women in both the executive and the judiciary branches. Jordan has also set a very good example in seeking to eliminate all forms of occupational and social discrimination between males and females. The National Report on the Progress of Jordanian Women has detailed these achievements. In fact, the establishment of the Jordanian National Commission for Women in 1992, as a national mechanism for the advancement of the status of women in Jordan is inevitably an important step in the right direction.

The dramatic contrast is that despite all of the achievements on the ground, Jordan's ranking according to the 2018 Global Gender Gap Report was disappointing. Jordan was ranked 138th among the 149 countries included in the report. According to the report, Jordan was able to fill 60.5 per cent of the gap between the sexes, whereas Iceland was ranked first in the world. The findings obtained by this report prompt us to reconsider all the data of the national equation for the advancement of Jordanian women. The reason behind this is that the advancement of Jordanian women is a supreme national interest, as social justice has important implications for the comprehensive national development.

In view of the Global Gender Gap Report and the ranking of Jordan, in an attempt to find out the reasons for Jordan's delay in accordance with this report, we find that the report relied in classifying the countries on four basic criteria: economy, education, health and politics.

As for the economic criteria, it was the most important factor in ranking Jordan in the bottom of the list. According to this criterion, Jordan was ranked 144th in the world, out of 149, with a rate of 37.5 per cent. In an attempt to find out the reasons for the economic stagnation of women in Jordan, we find a number of factors that need a separate article to address them in detail. Of these factors, the social factor is the most important one, namely: the culture of shame, the requirement that women should stay at home, restricting the social role of women in building the family, the employers’ preference to males over females due to maternity leave and others, the index of equal wages between the sexes for the same professions as well as related legislation. In fact, the ratio of females, who are not economically active of the total working-age, accounts for 85.3 per cent compared to 36.5 per cent for males.

With regards to the education criterion, it reflects Jordan's interest in the field of education and the justice of education for both sexes. According to this criterion, Jordan is far superior to many countries. Jordan was globally ranked 45th, out of 149, with an index of 99.8 per cent. This ratio is, indeed, a source of pride and a result of a long process of educational restructuring and restructuring of women's affairs as mentioned above.

As for the health criterion, Jordan was globally ranked 102nd, out of 149, according to the report, with a rate of 97.1 per cent, which is high and rising with the development of the health sector in general.

As for the politics criterion, it also had a significant impact on classifying Jordan in the bottom of the list according to this report. Jordan was globally ranked 129th out of 149, with a rate of 7.5 per cent. This is due to the fact that the low ratio of women's parliamentary and ministerial participation played the largest role in reducing this indicator.

There has been a marked improvement in this area. In fact, we have seen Jordanian women serving as deputies in Parliament, senators and ministers. It is not inconceivable to see a Jordanian woman as the speaker of the House of Representatives, the chairman of the Upper House or even the Prime Minister, especially in the light of increased education of women in Jordan, the advancement of their rights and Jordanian women's ability to innovate at work and the practical experiences that Jordanians have experienced on the ground in the form of many women’s success stories.

However, there is an urgent need to develop the factors that lead to the emergence of effective Jordanian feminist political elite. We also need radical changes initiated by Jordan from the educational axis, through legislation, and last but not least, empowerment. Based on the aforementioned, we conclude that the most required areas to promote the status of Jordanian women are the economic and political spheres.

The vision of the Jordanian leadership for the future of women, and the government’s measures taken in this regard, reflect a strong and genuine desire to achieve social justice based on gender equality, despite all social, cultural, political and economic challenges. Although Jordan's geographical and economic position has weighed on Jordan's policy, with many obstacles in various fields, Jordan's policy has thankfully proved its strength in overcoming these difficult obstacles and moving forward towards a comprehensive and pivotal prosperity.

I believe it is time to develop a national strategy with specific tasks linked to a timetable and priorities towards bridging the gender gap and promoting the status of Jordanian women.


The writer is president of the General Federation of Jordanian Women. She contributed this article to The Jordan Times

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