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Narrowing the Gap

By Nadia Hashem


There are obstacles that stand in the way of empowering women all over the world, so the Arab world and Jordan is no exception.

Such obstacles lie within the society’s culture and legislations.

We pride ourselves in Jordan for working towards empowering women and putting effort to give equal rights however there is still work to be done.

Representation in Elected Office:

While female participation in Jordanian parliament has increased over the past decade, it still remains low. Notwithstanding the 1974 law giving women the right to campaign and serve in office, few Jordanian women today are motivated to or feel comfortable running for political office, while even fewer are elected and ultimately serve. The current election law sets a quota for the number of women in parliament. Since the quota was established, 6 of the 110 seats in the Lower House of Parliament have consistently and successfully been reserved for women.

The quota seats were subsequently raised to 12. As for the new election law it is proposed to increase the number of seats from 12 to 15. The total number of parliament seats is also expected to increase to 140.

On average, 16% of parliamentary seats are held by women globally, as for Jordan there used to be one single woman in the senate in 1989, now there are 7 women out of 60, an average of 11%.  There are 13 women in the lower house of parliament out of 120 members, 12 of them entered parliament via the quota system. One woman only made it outside the quota in the last two elections (Reem Badran and Falak Jamaani).

Note there are 18 women, due to the improvement on the quota system; reserving 15 seats for the quota, plus two won on competitive seats: Maryam Lawzi and Wafa Bani Mustafa, in addition to Rola el Hroub who won on the National list.

Jordan is still working on women’s representation in elected office, but as progressive policies continue to be proposed and adopted under his Majesty King Abdallah II and with the support and hard work of Her Majesty Queen Rania, inequalities will continue to decrease narrowing the gap which will reflect positively on women’s rights and status in Jordan.

Nadia Hashem was the first woman State Minister for Woman Affairs in Jordan, she is a politician, a journalist, a poet and most of all an inspiration working hard on making a difference with a mission to empower women, currently she is Head of Women Empowerment Team at Economic Development Forum EPDF


Photo credit: European Parliament / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

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