Despite Jordan’s legal and constitutional provisions favorable to women’s access to public service and the decision-making, women’s presence in high rank, political and leadership positions remains way lower than aspired, especially in areas with high rates of poverty and unemployment. As an example, in the 2016 House of Representatives elections, Jordanian women earned only 20 out of 130 seats (still it is the highest rate of women’s political participation in Jordan’s history).
In this context the association Al-Anwar Women Charity Society undertook a diagnosis on the level of social approval of women assuming leadership roles in the Governorate of Ma’an by gauging the opinion of 419 local figures including presidents of civil society organizations, decisions-makers, activists, students, journalists, public employees, teachers and lawyers. One survey and 5 focus group discussions were organized to this end during the second semester of 2018.
The diagnosis’ findings show that women’s weak presence in leadership positions is mainly due to social customs and patriarchal dominant structures which limit women’s agency and produce gender stereotypes underestimating women’s roles and capabilities. These stereotypes, customs and traditions also affect women’s self-confidence and intimidate them. However, other factors such as women’s unawareness of their social and political rights, and the lack of serious efforts to include women in local governing structures and parties, were also identified during the diagnosis as factors impeding women’s leadership in the public and political spheres.
To elaborate the diagnosis, Al Anwar Women Charity Society involved key players in the field of decision making and gender equality such as the Governor of Ma’an, Al-Jafar Municipality, various women’s associations, specifically the Southern Badia Women Association and Nashmeyat Al-Badia (Badia Gentlewomen), besides media organizations like Jordan News Agency and Al Dustour newspaper, and last but not least Ma’an University.
This initiative is part of the field diagnosis developed by the local clusters of gender equality actors© set up by the FFEM since 2015.
It is part of the "Reinforcing the capacity of equality actors" project, funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs (MEAE) and coordinated by the European Institute of the Mediterranean (IEMed). This action is also part of the project "Developing women’s empowerment", labeled by the Union for the Mediterranean (UfM).
This platform is part of the Axis 1 "Strengthening the capacities of equality actors" of the Priority Solidarity Fund "Women for the future in the Mediterranean" funded by the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and led by the European Institute of the Mediterranean, in the framework of the project “Developing Women's Empowerment” labelled by the Union for the Mediterranean.