By EZRA KARMEL
Jordan has long struggled with gender inequality. It has consistently ranked poorly in gender gap indexes for the MENA region and the participation of women in the kingdom’s labor force is only about one quarter that of men.
But a group of charismatic Jordanian women are changing these longstanding trends. Working within male-dominated municipal governments, a small handful of female councilors are showing Jordan that women have a voice and an important role to play.
Sick of tired social tropes, these women are flipping Jordan’s old-boy’s-club-members-only style leadership on its head and carving out a space for greater female participation in public life. They are improving the Kingdom’s infrastructure and community spaces, establishing new institutions and networks in their communities for youth engagement, and forging new forums to empower women.
But what are these women’s names?
Because they are doing the important – rather than the glamorous – work, the contributions of councilors like Tahany Hasan Eshheemat, Aziza Sa’ed al Da’ja and Fatima Hussain Addi have not yet transformed into household names in Jordan. But their crucial efforts have to be recognized. If they aren’t, the representation of women will remain limited to the municipal women’s quota under which almost 30% of the council seats are reserved for female candidates – and through which all three named women obtained their seats.
Jordanian civil society is lending a helping hand to support these women and highlight their accomplishments. A project was recently launched by the Jordanian NGO Identity Center to ensure that these women’s work is recognized and that more women are elected outside of the quota the next time Jordanians go to the polls. The Beyond Quota project provides active female politicians with platforms to discuss their work so that they can tear down outdated social barriers and inspire other women to become involved.
More initiatives like Beyond Quota need to be spearheaded so that these women are defined by their achievements – not a gender or quota.
For more information: Visit Identity Center’s official website and read more about the work they are doing to challenge gender inequality in Jordan.