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Leading figures gather for conference on gender equality

By Rana Husseini - Dec 07,2018 - Last updated at Dec 07,2018

In this photo taken on Thursday, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Ouided Bouchamaoui (right) speaks at a conference in Amman on tackling gender equality issues (Photo courtesy of May Chidiac Foundation Facebook page)

AMMAN — Prime Minister Omar Razzaz said on Thursday that women should be afforded support and the right atmosphere so they could assume their full role in the change and development of society.

Razzaz’s address was delivered on his behalf by Minister of State for Media Affairs Jumana Ghunaimat, during the opening session of the “Women on the Front Lines Conference (WOFL) — MENA Chapter”, which was organised by the May Chidiac Foundation (MCF) in Amman.

“Women have reached high positions in many areas, which is due to many factors, including a strong political will, but the problems remain... in some entities and this is a problem that we need to overcome gradually,” Razzaz said.

Minister of Planning and International Cooperation Mary Kawar said, during the event’s female ministers’ seminar, that “women’s economic participation in Jordan is still low and we need to change the politics around the economy, which currently results in low-paid jobs and unqualified people assuming serious professions”.

 Kawar stressed that another important factor was to ensure that women are protected from sexual harassment at the workplace.

A recent study indicated that over 50 per cent of women experience one or more forms of non-verbal sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Ghunaimat said part of the key to women’s empowerment lies in focusing on youth.

“Around 70 per cent of the population are youth and if we empower both genders, we empower our society and contribute in its development, Ghnaimat said.      

MCF founder May Chidiac also addressed the gathering and said that although there were many positive achievements made by women worldwide, inequality remained. 

“Women are still a minority in leadership positions and in national policymaking, particularly in Arab governments and parliaments,” Chidiac said.

“It is time for equality between women and men to become a universal cross-gender priority. It is time to change the equation... men and women should work together to redress this unjust situation,” Chidiac stressed.  

According to a press release, one of the conference’s goals was to stimulate women’s empowerment and encourage them to achieve a better future.

MCF executive board member and chairperson of the conference, Maha Shaer, pointed out that the “rising number of university female graduates in the Arab world was not reflected in the labour market”.

Women still lack similar conditions and privileges that are available to men, Shaer said, “thus few reach the advanced ranks, although they have the determination and the intelligence... the only lack is the lack of opportunities”.

“We also notice the growing role of women in the government sector, with many holding high portfolios... so the question is don’t we deserve one day to see a woman as prime minister in the Arab world?” Shaer added.

Lebanese MP Roula Jaroudi tackled the issue of citizenship and the fact that Lebanese women married to non-Lebanese men cannot pass on citizenship to her children.

“It is a shame that Lebanese women have more rights outside their country than inside their home,” Jaroudi said.

CEO of Orange Jordan, which is a partner of WOFL, Thierry Marigny delivered a speech in which he expressed his gratitude to MCF for hosting the event.

One of the steps to equality, according to Marigny, was to ensure equal pay between both genders.

In conclusion, Marigny said: “When a woman is empowered, societies flourish in many, many ways... and as Orange Jordan, we will continue to ensure the empowerment of women through initiatives that promote females in important positions.”

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