WAJ: Knowledge is Power
Knowledge is power and knowledge is an important prerequisite for women’s access to justice!
ِAlmost four days ago the final activities for 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence concluded. Reflecting on the various initiatives that took place over the span of the 16 days, now more than ever, it is vital to continue empowering women to claim their legal rights and create safer environments for women and children as a tool to prevent gender-based violence. We must not wait until next November for another 16 Days of Activism, but must commit to this 365 days a year.
Throughout ARDD-LA’s comprehensive work as a legal aid provider and as a civil society organisation striving to empower marginalized and vulnerable groups to acquire their universal rights and freedoms, we continually find knowledge gaps when it comes to women’s understanding about their legal rights. We understand that this knowledge gap makes women vulnerable to gender-based violence.
This is why legal awareness sessions focusing on Personal Status Law are an important component of the Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ) project. The Personal Status Law deals with issues regarding family, marriage, divorce and custody – topics concerning most people in their personal life, however, special attention should be given to women since this law disproportionally impacts them.
Personal Status Law in Jordan is considered one of the world’s most discriminatory against women. The law endorse men’s authority when it comes to marriage, filing divorce and custody rights of children. This is why it is vital to educate people of the applicable legal framework, while at the same time pushing for chances to make the legal framework more concerned with women’s rights.
Special attention must also be paid to refugees. With the influx of Syrian refugees to Jordan, we’ve found that many Syrians do not hold legal marriage documents. According to UNHCR, Syrian refugees represent, today, more than 90% of registered refugees in Jordan or around 700,000 people. Knowing that many of the refugees come to Jordan without knowledge about the applicable law and without legal documentation of their marriage status, it is a priority to provide legal awareness sessions about Personal Status Law and to encourage people to attain legal documents.
Even though this represents an important part of women’s empowerment, knowledge alone is never enough to ensure women’s access to justice. This is why the Women’s Access to Justice project has a comprehensive approach that complements the legal awareness sessions by providing psychosocial support sessions, community engagement activities, and promotes women’s economic empowerment. This is in line with ARDD-Legal Aid’s holistic approach that aims to provide support to vulnerable and marginalised populations in several fronts.