We don’t usually see the Kingdom of Jordan making the headlines or flashing US cable news. In fact, the importance of the Kingdom to the United States is sometimes underestimated. But amid protests, conflict and oppression in the Middle East, Jordan is a stabilizing influence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a staunch partner in the fight against extremism in the region, and a vital ally of states. -United.
Jordan’s stability is by no means assured. Although poor in resources and surrounded by instability and violence, it has remained remarkably stable and does an admirable job in the face of challenges in the region and within its own borders.
Despite this progress, there is work to be done. To seek a path of economic and political vitality, women in Jordan must be empowered and have a stake in the country’s future. In recent years, the Conservative Kingdom has taken overwhelmingly positive steps to encourage women to take up leadership positions, run for office and work outside the home. It is vital that these efforts be extended even further to bring more women into the decision-making fold.
Jordanian women have long been under-represented in economic and political life, yet an estimated 95 percent of women in Jordan are literate. In addition, women are more likely than men to attend university, but less than 16% of Jordanian women are employed or looking for one.
Jordanian women are also under-represented in politics, despite electoral gender quotas. The parliament has 130 members, including 20 women (15 per quota). This has drawbacks for the stability of the political system. According to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, women who are appointed or elected to public office increase a nation’s legitimacy and build public confidence in the system. When women’s voices are included in public discourse, the level of debate is high.
Under-representation is not only a problem for Jordanian women, it is a problem for the economic viability and culture of Jordan for this generation and the next. We know that economic growth will not create gender equality. Gender equality is about empowering women to be educated, participate in the workforce and take leadership positions in the Kingdom.
The answer, of course, is the continued empowerment of women to run for office, take up leadership positions and start businesses. As Margaret Thatcher pointed out, “If you want to say something, ask a man. If you want something done, ask a woman.
During a recent trip to Jordan organized by the International Republican Institute (IRI), I had the opportunity to meet a group of Jordanian women who are shaking up tradition to become leaders in their communities. These women are among 120 recent graduates of IRI’s Empower Initiative, a program that works with economically challenged rural women to build their skills and confidence so they are better equipped to work. engage in political and civic life.
The graduates of the Empower program made great sacrifices and overcome educational, financial and cultural barriers to complete the program. I was inspired by these women who gained the courage and the confidence to move forward as if they had nothing to lose.
Falha Al-Athamneh, mother of five from Mreigha in southern Jordan, said she always wanted to become the voice of her community and stand up for what is worthwhile, but she was afraid of herself. express and know how people might react. Falha told me that the training helped her find the courage to participate in local elections and run for office.
Intisar Abu Hweidi graduated from the Empower Program and became the first woman to serve as a moderator of a town hall in her city.
Fakhriyeh Al Zeinatisan said the skills she learned through the training program encouraged her to open a small store in her district.
Rana Ngheimesh is now director of the DarAl-‘Ata’a Association for Social Development and plans to run for municipal elections.
It is clear that many Jordanian women have the talent and desire to succeed in any field they choose, but fewer have the skills, confidence or opportunity to engage in their community beyond roles. traditional family. My message to these inspiring new graduates was simple: never take ‘no’ for an answer and never, ever give up. However, government and civil society organizations have a crucial role to play in helping these women participate in public life so that they can translate their ambition into action and sustainable inclusion.
In order to build economically competitive societies capable of overcoming challenges such as poverty or reaping the benefits of globalization, it is essential that countries take steps to realize the full potential of their populations by enabling women to be equal partners in the country’s future. . If the women I have met in Jordan are any indication, the return on investment will be huge.
Gail Gitcho is president of First Tuesday, a political consultancy firm. She is a member of the board of directors of the Women’s Democracy Network of the International Republican Institute. She participated in international electoral activities with the IRI, including the formation of political parties and election observation missions. She spent many years on Capitol Hill and worked for presidential campaigns including as Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyRomney on the Anniversary of the Capitol Attack: “Ignore the lessons of January 6 at our peril” Has Trump become too tame for the MAGAverse? Harry Reid to lie on Capitol Hill on January 12 MOREcommunications director of in 2012.