Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

ARDD and Justice Sector Support Forum hold panel discussion on mechanisms of civic engagement in response to gender-based violence


The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development and the Justice Sector Support Forum, with support from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration held on Wednesday, August 29, 2018, a panel discussion on “the Mechanism of Civic Engagement in Response to Gender-Based Violence”, which present a summary of the learned lessons from the project “Shurouq: Preventing and Responding to Gender-Based Violence through Legal Protection and Civic Engagement”, and comes in conclusion of the project that will wrap up on August 31, 2018, and seeks to enhance the prevention and response to gender-based violence (GBV).

The panel discussion was angled on two aspects, the first of which is the lessons learned from Shorouq, starting from its theoretical phase until the end of its implementation. The second aspect was entitled “What did the women learn from their entrepreneurial experience?”, during which three participating women spoke about the initiatives they started in their communities through the project, how these initiatives were implemented and what are their visions and aspirations for the future.

During the event, a discussion was held on how to use civic participation as a tool to combat gender-based violence, moderated by ARDD CEO Samar Muhareb, and by speakers Senator Dr. Sawsan Al-Majali, lawyer and consultant in the Jordanian National Commission for Women Amal Haddadin, and Samar Obaidat, a specialized trainer from Talal Abu-Ghazaleh International Organization.

Muhareb expressed ARDD’s pleasure at highlighting the initiatives of the women participating in Shorouq project, stressing that ARDD is always working to empower women, involve them in the fight against gender-based violence in their respective communities and overcoming the obstacles that might hinder their path towards a peaceful and just life. She highlighted the impossibility of realizing justice without building the infrastructure that empowers women and enables them to reach their goals.

She added that one of the most important objectives of the project is to connect the participants with leading women, both in public and private sectors, in addition to strengthening the ties between civil society and the private sector, which has crystallized through ARDD’s partnership with Talal Abu-Ghazaleh International Group.

Meanwhile, Senator Majali said that there are many causes to gender-based violence and each one must be studied separately to reach a solution to the problem.  She stressed that the issue of violence is a national, regional and global issue and cannot be resolved unilaterally. It requires cooperative and participatory work from official institutions, civil society organizations and the media.

Individual work in the area of ​​protection against gender-based violence is of great concern to Majali, she said, and she considers it to be a factor in the lack of progress in this area, she said, stressing the importance of providing resources and legislation that support inputs and achieve the desired progress.

Majali pointed out that the studies and initiatives that she carried out through her work in the Senate showed that economic violence, especially women's deprivation of inheritance, is the most prevalent king of gender-based violence against women in Jordan, noting that the husband, father or brother’s requisition of a woman’s salary is in the forefront of reasons that subdue her desire to work.

The Senator considered that the creation and implementation of initiatives from the community itself is a guarantee of the sustainability of these initiatives, because the support of organizations and projects ends but the initiative that comes from the need of the community persists. She said that as much as we are in need of support and funding, we have a bigger need for a strong will and cooperation between each other, noting that the involvement of young people should not be visionary but effective and real. It is our duty to listen to them and make them share a new and modern vision, she said, especially as they have new challenges ahead of them.

Lawyer and Legal Advisor Amal Haddadin said that the Jordanian National Commission for Women integrates issues related to women in all the plans that are on the table in Jordan and seeks to garner support through its model partnership with civil society organizations, particularly since the commission monitors issues related to women through these organizations’ studies and research.

Haddadin added that the fruitful work of the Jordanian National Commission for Women with civil society organizations has led to the abolition of Article 308 of the Penal Code, which stipulated dropping the penalty for the offender in rape cases if he married his victim, stressing that the commission is still working to amend the provisions that discriminate against women, and while they have made progress in many aspects, the road ahead is still long.

Haddadin added that we need to raise awareness on the importance of women's participation in promoting national sustainable development. It is necessary to work on preventing the roots of violence, she continued, by changing misconceptions and behaviors towards women through the Ministry of Education’s school curricula.

For her part, Talal Abu-Ghazaleh International specialized trainer Samar Obaidat, said she impressed by the creativity of women involved in the Shurouq project and their ability to identify the need and plan initiatives.

Obaidat added that Talal Abu-Ghazaleh Group believes in partnership with civil society organizations to reach common goals, especially since Mr. Talal Abu-Ghazaleh has always stressed the importance of empowering young people and women.

ARDD had launched the project “Shorouq” on April 12, 2018, with support from the US Department of State’s Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration, with the aim of  illuminating women’s path towards a better life by empowering and engaging them in the fight against gender-based violence in their communities and overcoming the challenges and obstacles that may impede their paths towards a peaceful and just life.

The project was implemented in three governorates; Amman, Zarqaa and Irbid, and targeted Syrian and host-community women over the age of 16, who are vulnerable to or have previously been exposed to gender-based violence, through legal awareness sessions and psychosocial support, as well as training them in civic participation, which has resulted in the creation of a group of leading women who have and will continue to work as change makers, leaders and role models in their communities.

The project resulted in 24 diverse and beneficial community initiatives implemented by the participants, that targeted a large group of women.