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Today, history was made

Jan 02,2022 - Last updated at Jan 02,2022

Today was a historic day in Jordan, as the Jordanian Parliament approved the first patch of constitutional amendments proposed by the Royal Commission to Modernise the Political System. One of the most contentious proposed amendments was a change to the constitution to allow for the use of both feminine and masculine pronouns when addressing Jordanian citizens. Currently, Article 6 in the constitution, states that “Jordanians shall be equal before the law. There shall be no discrimination between them as regards to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion”. When translated into Arabic, despite the fact that it refers to both men and women, “Jordanians” translates as a masculine term, which corresponds to the standards of written Arabic back in the 1950s, when groups of people were referred to using masculine terms. Now that the Kingdom is celebrating its second centennial, the rhetoric and legal terms should change as well, as the time has come to make a very clear reference to women in the Jordanian constitution.

While some legislators justify their opposition to this amendment by claiming that it would supersede inheritance or citizenship laws, this is patently false. The amendment’s primary objective is not only to ensure “linguistic equality”, but also to ensure that women play a more active role in public life. Jordan’s inheritance laws are based on Sharia law; thus, we should not fall victim to the endless accusations that the fight for women’s equality is a stain on women’s morality and thus opens the door to destroying society’s morality and family unity.

The amendment approved today acknowledgesthe Royal Committee’s recommendation to add the female noun for a Jordanian citizen to the second chapter of the Jordanian constitution that deals with rights and duties and aimed at ensuring equal rights for all citizens. This was not the only historic change that occurred today; the parliament also endorsed three additional recommendations. The other was an amendment to the fifth article in the second chapter, changing it to “the law protects the rights of people with disabilities and promotes their participation and integration in all aspects of life. Additionally, it safeguards motherhood, childhood and the elderly, provides care for children, and prevents abuse and exploitation”. The preceding article stated, “The law safeguards motherhood, childhood and the elderly, as well as youth and the disabled, shielding them from harm and exploitation.” This amendment aims to strengthen the legal protection of people with disabilities and to increase their participation in all spheres of political, economic, social and cultural life as full members of society.

Two new articles were added to the second chapter of the constitution as well, with the goal of empowering women and affirming their role in society, as well as strengthening the legal protections necessary to protect them from all forms of violence and discrimination. The new article states that “the state guarantees women’s empowerment and support to participate actively in society’s construction in a way that ensures equal opportunities based on justice and equity and protects them from all forms of violence and discrimination”. The other addition is relevant to the youth andaims at empowering young people and increasing their participation in various spheres of society.The article sates the following.” Within the limits of its capabilities, the state ensures that youth have the opportunity to participate in political, economic, social, and cultural life, develop their capabilities, foster their creativity and innovation, and promote the values of citizenship, tolerance, and the rule of law.”

Noting that these amendments are consistent with his Majesty’s vision for a modern and democratic Jordan that advances democracy, increases public participation in decision-making, and fosters an environment that is conducive to expanding the base of political engagement and ensuring the active participation of women and youth in public life.

 

The author is a member of the Royal Committee to Modernise the Political System and she contributed this article to The Jordan Times.

 

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