Today I’m going to talk to you about empowering of women, and how to overcome the obstacles that they often face.
Throughout the ages ,women have persevered and worked hard to obtain their freedom and independence, in Britain ,women were not allowed to vote until the famous struggle led by the resilient and confident Emmeline Pankhurst ,who many of you have undoubtedly heard of, so in Britain women eventually gained their right to vote in 1928.
In Jordan Laws and Regulation are quite fair in most fields; Women gained their right to vote, run for political office and join political organizations in 1974 based on a royal decree issued at that time.
However, in practice, there was the unique ‘Quota system’ that allowed women in Jordan to advance and exercise their political rights. The ‘Quota system’ guaranteed a minimum representation for women as members of Parliament and other political bodies. It also gave them the right to occupy public offices and to participate in political, trade union and professional organizations. Despite all laws and regulation that have been developed to support women, still some societies appeared to be unaware of the important role that women played in assisting them in building a flourishing society especially in rural constituencies.
I still remember when I ran for parliament in 2007. ‘I asked my second cousin to support me in my bid for election and he answered me: “Aren’t there any eligible men in our tribe to vote for?” Although my attempt to become an elected MP was unsuccessful, I feel that my participation helped empower and pave the way for the concept of a ‘woman’ running for public office, to me more accepted within my local constituency. Today, we have 18 elected female MP’s
King Abdullah and Queen Rania have supported the empowerment of women in all facets of their daily lives. Queen Rania was aware of the importance empowering women ever since she was a princess and therefore established the Jordan River Foundation in 1997.
Today, it has become a world renowned foundation and a model for the empowerment of women in Jordan. This foundation supports women through education, training programs and vocational skills especially in rural areas where there is less education and fewer economic opportunities.
Jordanians are proud of female enjoyment of the highest levels of education in the region and the Middle East, according to official numbers; primary school enrolment rates in 2013 rose to 98.1% and the percentage of girls' enrolment in University education was 51.3% and in the master's 42.7% and doctoral degrees was 30.2%. Even in the workplace Jordanian women have achieved success in various fields, becoming doctor, engineer, judge, minister and Deputy prime Minister in 1999.
Through my experience, of working with the Human and Land NGO and gallery 13 for Arts, I realized that the empowerment of Jordanian women in all walks of life cannot be greatly advanced unless she is freed from the prevalent social barriers that hinder her progress and also the need to change some misconceptions about the importance of women working and advancing their role as productive members of society.
Moreover, in order to ensure that the advancement of women’s rights continues; I propose that we spread more awareness by holding informative talks for both men and women in their rural communities. The focus would be twofold: Firstly, empowering women economically through providing the necessary funding to expand and or establish a new business. This would also entail the provision of training programs and workshops for interested women from the local community. And secondly, by educating members of society on the importance of empowering women and how their liberation will lead to a more successful and robust society, As Queen Rania said; when we empower and educate women, we empower and educate the entire society.
I also noticed that many small business owners were unaware of the possible funding available to them and didn’t have enough knowledge on how to prepare a proposal to apply for funding. They also had insufficient support regarding the implementation of marketing plans for their products.
I also learned that we should advertise information about our aims including the holding of these work shops through the main stream media; TV and newspapers. The government can also increase its support by providing appropriate venues, free of charge. Whereby, we can hold meetings at local government schools and/or other government vicinities. The government can also implement and expand the necessary directives to reduce barriers to women working.
In conclusion; by believing in our selves, working harder, persevering and never failing to voice our concerns and aspirations we can reach our goals and have an equal voice in society. We must think out of the traditional framework and advocate that women in Jordan can attain the success that they desire, just as their counterparts have done, in Europe and America and other parts of the world. Let’s work together to make this dream a reality!