Jordanian women's successes and challenges

Feminism rises from revolutions and crises

News Center - Throughout history, the rights of Jordanian women have been ignored. Women have been considered as second-class citizens in Jordanian society. But Jordanian women have fought against oppressions imposed on them, and they are still struggling to take their natural place in society and to regain their usurped rights.

 Jordan is one of the countries in the Middle East suffering from a patriarchal system. Granddaughters of Queen Shaqilat and Queen Caldo and the wives of King Harith IV Jamalat and Hagroth, whose names were written on the coinage of the Nabataean civilization in the 40th century BC is still struggling to regain this status.

 Women participated in uprisings against the Ottoman and British occupation, but history did not give any information about women.

 From the documents and information available on that period, it was discovered that during the attack on the Hajjaya clans, the people of the region resisted the Ottoman forces and a number of women were martyred such as Maghida Um Mufleh Al-Maraghia and her daughter, Ali's wife Al-Sawawiya Al-Hajjaya, and Kifaya Al-Sawawiya. In addition, a number of women were captured such as Maghida Al-Rudaysat.

The Ottoman occupation forces tried to use women as servants for soldiers, but women refused and led the Shobak revolution, men from Shobak attacked the ottoman soldiers and expelled them from the castle, and stayed in the castle to defend them from any attack.

 History talks about Sharif Hussein revolution, it says women sold their jewelry and bought weapons to fight the occupiers. So the Ottoman occupation tried to stop the women and imprisoned some of them such as the sisters Mushkhas Al-Majali and Bandar Al-Majali. They became the first two political prisoners in the Levant.

A prominent feminist presence in Tafilah battles

The battles that took place in Tafilah have an important role in Jordan's independence during the Great Arab Revolution, and the role of the Jordanian women in the battles were legendary. Women provided money by giving their jewelry to fighters to buy weapons before the start of the battles, and they also provided supplies during the battles. Jordanian women also worked to raise the morale of fighters from Tafilah clans and pushed them to fight. Women worked as health workers and treated the wounded; they also carried messages between fighters and tribal sheikhs, carried out camouflage operations. Many women were wounded and martyred such as Thuraya Khamis Al-Dalabij, Hasna Abdul-Ghani Al-Shabatat, Sheikha Al-Qleilat Al-Zaydanien, Subhiya Al-Hajjaj Al-Bahrat, Subhiya Al-Amayrah, Fatima Dhaif Allah Al-Amayrah, Fedia Abdel-Rahman Al-Jaraba.

Development of women's issues

 Women have always been considered a symbol of fertility, and the first peoples who inhabited on the earth always considered them as God of goodness, love, and blessing.  The ancient Jordanians sanctified women and referred to them by drawing of plant symbols indicating fertility, such as a laurel wreath, palm trees, white flower clusters, and others.

Since the end of the nineteenth century, the leaders of the revolution demanded to educate women and include them in various fields of work, but patriarchal society continued to reject any unconventional role for women.

 Women worked for charity works charitable and they found a space for freedom and self-affirmation. So aristocratic women, women from middle-class and elite women started founding charitable organizations to make female presence visible in the public field.

"Women’s Solidarity Association” founded I 1944 is one of those organizations. Among the associations and a year later the Women’s Union Association was established, its works were limited to providing health services, education, and aid to people in need.

 Emily Bisharat, the first Jordanian lawyer, worked in 1954 to establish the Arab Women’s Union at the time of Arab tide led by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser. This union demanded women's right to vote, but the events that took place in the country caused the closure of all organizations.

Women regained their roles in various fields. After the defeat of the Arab armies in their war against Israel in 1967, women had an active role in the war by providing social services to the displaced and refugees from the West Bank in Palestine. Women returned to their previous role working charitable field and tried to enter the political field.

 Jordanian Women's Union and their right to vote

The Jordanian Women’s Union was established in 1974 as the first women's organization to support women's issues in general. In the same year, women won their right to vote, but they were unable to use their right until 1989.

The branches of the Jordanian Women's Union spread in all government structures and they included more than 3 thousand affiliates in 1981, according to the book "The History of the Jordanian Women's Movement between 1944-2008" written by Sohair Al-Tal, published in 2014.

The government was against the union and tried to stop women's activities, so it closed down the Jordanian Women's Union and changed its name as General Women's Union under the auspices of the Ministry of Social Affairs.

 Women were and are still warriors against two actors, the first actor is the state legalizing its activities and the second is the conservative society influenced by Muslim Brotherhood.

 Most prominent feminist organizations

 Feminist organizations seek to carry women forward and make them aware of their civil, political, and economic rights and to perform their role in society, as they are important and essential members in building it. Among the most prominent of these organizations are:

 Jordanian Women's Association:

 It was established in 1945. It aims is to enhance the status of Jordanian women, enable them to participate in various national issues, and achieve gender equality. The association has several branches spreading throughout the country, including the Irbid branch which works on providing education for women to know their legal rights, and to participate in economic projects aimed at women's independence.

The other branch located in Khaldiya city was established in 1994. It has worked to raise awareness of women and the community by providing awareness programs such as alphabetical and legal literacy. This branch has also carried out projects about children, families, economy. It has organized festivals and cultural events.

The branch in Ramtha was established in 1991 and it has carried out projects about rural women and children by organizing educational and cultural activities.

 The branch in Ajloun was established 6 years after the establishment of the branch in Ramtha. It has carried out projects to raise the level of rural women by including them in local activities.

 General Jordanian Women's Union

 It was established in 1981, it has (250) women's associations, clubs, and social organizations under its umbrella and it has 11 branches. The union aim to develop the status of women, and achieve equality between women and men.

 The Jordanian National Women's Committee

 The committee was established in 1996, by the initiative of Princess Basma bint Talal, and it has officially worked under the supervision of the Interior Ministry.

 The Women's Solidarity Association

It was established in 1998 by many Jordanian women believing in women’s issues, and it is considered one of the most active feminist organizations. It has worked on defending women’s rights, protecting them from violence and discrimination.

 The association has launched several campaigns to raise awareness about women's issues, such as the campaign to increase the age of marriage, the campaign for identities of the children, whose mothers from Jordan, the campaign to issue the Law on Protection from Domestic Violence, and the campaign to cancel the text of Article 308 of the Penal Code, which stated that "the rapist will not get any punishment if he marries his victim" and a campaign to criminalize the removal of the wombs of disability girls.

 The feminist movement has achieved great successes in the field of women's rights; the most important one is about Article 15-4 of the CEDAW Convention approved in 2002. The article is about granting women and men the same rights.

 However, there is still a long way to go for the feminist movement. The High Elections Commission stated that the rate of women’s participation in political and public life is still low.