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Activists, MPs call for expanding women’s role in decision-making positions

By Rana Husseini - Jan 30,2021 - Last updated at Jan 30,2021

AMMAN — Female MPs and activists have called on the government to take advantage of the Kingdom’s marking of the centennial of the foundation of the Jordanian state by increasing women’s representation in decision-making positions.

Madaba MP Asma Rawahneh said the government needs to consider starting the new 100 years for Jordan by considering the increase of women in decision-making positions and eliminating all the laws that discriminate against them.

“It is time to change the culture that still perceives women in a certain stereotypical manner, especially when it comes to appointing individuals in high-level positions and increasing their presence in the legislative bodies,” Rawahneh said.

Jordan will celebrate the centennial of the foundation of the Jordanian state upon the arrival of His Majesty the late King Abdullah I in Maan in November 1920 with several major activities in various part of the Kingdom.

Rawahneh’s remarks were made during an online event organised by Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI) last week.

The event was part of the “Eye on Women Programme to Monitor the 2020 Elections from a Gender Perspective”, titled “Women’s MPs Stereotyping Role”.

Rawahneh added that although women are “less corrupt and more committed, we are always facing barriers and we feel that we are being fought against”.

“I feel that we are always placed in a certain block that limits our capabilities and abilities to make the necessary change,” Rawahneh stated.

Ajloun MP Safa Momani echoed Rawahneh’s demands stating that female MPs usually have to exert double the efforts compared to male candidates.

“We need to change the social attitudes towards women’s involvement in the political life because we are capable of making a huge difference if we were given the appropriate chances and atmosphere,” Momani told the gathering.

When reflecting her own experience in the Lower House of Parliament, Momani said that female MPs, in general, “are not treated equally as their male peers when it comes to media coverage”.

“We surely suffer from stereotyping by the media and our speeches and questioning of the government are not taken seriously by the media,” she said.

On the other hand, “when our male colleagues address issues, which sometimes could be minor or similar to what we pointed out, their statements are magnified in the press,” she added.

“All we are asking for is to receive the support from everyone that we deserve.  We are not asking for more,” Momani added.

Also speaking during the event, SIGI Executive Director Asma Khader pointed to the women’s movement’s experience with female MPs over the past two decades.

“From our experience, women MPs and ones in decision-making positions are committed to their work and many are bold and active in the position they occupy,” Khader stated.

But unfortunately, “women are marginalised on many occasions and are placed in positions and committees that are typically perceived to cater to women and children’s rights rather than being given leadership positions,” Khader said.

Khader was quick to point out her organisation’s commitment to “fully cooperate with the women MPs in the current Lower House of Parliament to make the necessary changes related to discriminatory laws and other aspects pertaining to women’s advancements”.

“We are here to always support women MPs in their fight for just causes as women and for the nation as a whole,” Khader said, adding that this should be done in “full force with the involvement of everyone in society”.

The participants agreed during the two-hour event that the government should consider ensuring a minimum of 30 per cent women’s quota in various decision-making and legislative body positions.

The Eye on Women project aims to empower women, emphasise the importance of equal opportunities for Jordanian women, as well as, ensure their active participation in the political, social, economic and cultural decision-making process.

The project included several activities including monitoring the 2020 parliamentary elections from a gender perspective along with motivating and building the capacity of women candidates and voters.

The project is being co-funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation and the EU under the framework of the Jordanian Democratic Institutions Development (EU-JDID) programme. 

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