Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ): 8 Weeks on Farah Al-Nas Radio

Alice Su

When ARDD-Legal aid began its Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ) program with Oxfam in 2011, our aims were simple: reduce women’s vulnerability and suffering by improving their access to quality legal services. We worked in Zarqa to raise awareness of women’s rights especially under personal status law, and to ease the financial and administrative strain of seeking legal justice.

Three years later, we’ve found this groundwork essential but not enough. True access to justice for women requires broader change, bringing all Jordanian society and state together to protect and support our women. This requires awareness, which begins through conversation.

To spark the dialogue, ARDD-Legal Aid ran a two-month radio program on Farah Al-Nas Radio, with different speakers every Monday morning to share our WAJ experiences and findings and invite public discussion. What does justice mean for women in Jordan, we asked? Does it involve law only, or also economics, culture, religion, education, family and work? Are women aware of their rights under Jordanian law, and is that enough?

Responses came via radio call-ins, Facebook posts and on-air polling throughout the 8 weeks. Some listeners were angry, thinking that “women’s access to justice” would upset respected traditions of Jordanian family structure. Others, mostly women, shared their own stories of suffering injustice and difficulties trying to do anything about it. Discussion also brought new perspectives – how women’s injustice can be self-imposed, for example, or how legal enforcement of human rights is needed for all Jordanians, men and women alike.

The speakers and topics were as follows:

Samar Muhareb, General Director, ARDD-Legal Aid

  • Introduction to women’s access to justice: overview of WAJ objectives, experience and achievements, vision for future women’s access to justice in Jordan

Dr. Lina Darras, Psychosocial Officer, ARDD-Legal Aid

  • Psychology and women’s access to justice: mental, social and emotional impact of women’s inability to access justice on Jordanian society

Dr. Zaid Eyadat, Dean of the School of Political Science and International Studies, University of Jordan

  • Academia and women’s access to justice: the University of Jordan as a civil society player, scholarly support for legal empowerment of women

Ghalib Abdul Rahim, Director of Legal Department, ARDD-Legal Aid

  • Administrative barriers to women’s access to justice: prolonged litigation, delayed settlement, lack of judicial staff in Jordanian courts

Bassam Dmourof, Lawyer, ARDD- Legal Aid

  • Financial barriers to women’s access to justice: high court fees, litigation expenses, women’s lack of financial independence

Adel Aldaboubi, Political and Civic Engagement Unit Officer, ARDD-Legal Aid

  • Civil society and women’s access to justice: empowering and supporting women across the spectrum of Jordanian society

Dr. Abeer Dababneh, Head of the Centre for Women’s Studies, University of Jordan

  • Education and women’s access to justice: raising women’s own awareness of their right to access justice, especially through the Centre for Women’s Studies

Salwa Abdulaziz, Social Worker, ARDD-Legal Aid

  • Youth, social work and women’s access to justice: pre-marriage rights awareness, need for social workers in Shari’a courts to provide prenuptial guidance for young couples

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