Human Interest

Jordanian women and their struggle in politics

By Hayat al-Dbeas

Amman, May 11 (EFE).- The under-representation of Jordanian women in politics hinders the measures the Hashemite kingdom applied to try and close a gender gap that has impacted its ranking in political empowerment among women worldwide.

Out of 164 countries, Jordan came in 122nd in the 2022 World Economic Forum’s survey for gender equality, a report that measures the progress on equality based on political empowerment, economic participation and educational opportunities.

“I thought that occupying a seat in parliament would make men believe in the ability of women in politics, but I was wrong and they accused me of usurping a man’s opportunity to win this seat,” deputy Safaa al-Momeni denounces.

In 2021, Jordan ranked number 131 in the same report.

Although Jordan moved up nine positions in one year, al-Momeni says there have been no concrete changes to achieve equality, despite national efforts to amend the constitution and set up a road map to strengthen women’s political participation.

Al-Momeni believes that the support she got from her family and social circle “does not hide the society’s permanent desire for men to occupy these positions before women.”

“The opinion of women is not valued because they are considered a minority in political representation,” al-Momeni adds, pointing out that sometimes a “male deputy interrupts a female deputy when it’s her turn to speak, but if the opposite takes place, he makes a fuss.”

Maha Ali, the secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, tells Efe: “The efforts to increase the percentage of women in decision-making roles collide with violence against them, in addition to the lack of economic resources and available leadership opportunities.”

According to a report by Ali’s commission, “two out of three women (64.9%) with political and leadership positions suffer violence in politics.”

Meager financial resources, low salaries, limited leadership opportunities, as well as the lack of general freedoms, career advancement opportunities, and freedom of expression lead women to withdraw from political life, which further widens the gender gap.

Jordan, however, “is about to close the gap in health and education,” according to the report, but “it has to first reconsider the indications of political empowerment and work on it,” Ali says.

Chief of the National Human Rights Council Samar al-Hajj explains that an “updated system will make Jordanian women participate more in political life and guarantee their place in leadership positions.”

This system has already amended political parties law in Jordan as it established a “minimum of 20% women in a political party to strengthen female participation” and increased the quota of women’s seats in parliament.

It also allowed electoral competitiveness, lowered the age of eligiblity to run for candidacy to 25 years, and set up a minimum of 30% female representation in public or private leadership positions.

“These amendments can reduce the gender gap, but we must work to change the image of women and protect them from all kinds of violence and harassment that they suffer during their political participation,” Ali concludes. EFE


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