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Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Change Starts from Within

ARDD-Legal Aid

In mid May ARDD-Legal Aid attended the USAID Energy Sector Capacity Building Network Event and Women’s Leadership Forum. Over the span of two days the event sought to bring together women in the Energy Sector to network and to understand their prospects as women working in this field.

On Tuesday May 19th, USAID held a networking event at the Landmark hotel that was exclusively for women. ARDD-Legal Aid was among the many organizations, companies and universities that were present at the event. ARDD-Legal Aid’s booth worked to inform women of their rights through the Lana and Women’s Access to Justice Programs. The two projects worked in tandem to provide a comprehensive approach to women’s empowerment for the over 250 women that attended the event.

The Lana Project spoke about the importance of participation and how women can participate more within the economic, political and social spheres of their lives. As women came to ARDD-Legal Aid’s booth they were asked questions about political participation in Jordan and them asked to give their advice to other women. “Women are already active in their societies but they need to become active in all sectors.” This was the common sentiment women addressed to the Lana Project and they discussed ways in which to do this. For these successful women who are working to improve their careers through this conference, they all had advice for one another based on their own struggles. “ Give women their rights and respect her ability to make decisions,” all of the women present understood the power of their own decision and knew that this was a struggle that most had faced. Some of those at the conference were ‘Lana’ Project Change makers who spoke with other participants of the importance of being active in all spheres of their lives. By empowering women, they can work to actively make change in their society. Our change makers had a huge impact at the event as the spoke with almost all participants to discuss increasing participation.

Also at the event was the Women’s Access to Justice Program where they shared information on women’s rights. Phases II of the project has a special focus on empowering women economically, women at the event all had many questions about their rights for ARDD-Legal Aid. Many had questions about learning more about the Personal Status Law as they felt they and their communities were not aware of the details and their rights as guaranteed with the law. For many of these women, they recognized the importance of understanding their economic, legal and social rights. These women recognized that “change starts from within” and they saw the awareness sessions that WAJ provides as a way to jumpstart this change. They encouraged other women to “be whatever you want to be” and to share with others the importance of attending events such as this to gain awareness of the opportunities available for women.

Day one was a success for both the WAJ and ‘Lana’ Projects as many women expressed interest in becoming a change maker  and learning more about their rights to empower them. The second day of the Energy Sector Capacity Building Activity was center on Women’s Leadership with a forum bringing together men and women to discuss prospects and perspectives on women in the energy sector here in Jordan.

Women in Jordan make up 30% of the students in the energy sector but only 15% of women in the workforce. 2% of business owners in Jordan are women. For participants in the event, this was alarming but not a surprising statistic. They emphasized the lack of networking opportunities as one of the main barriers for women in accessing higher positions or even knowing where to look for these positions in the first place. For many, women saw that policies that look to increase women’s participation could initially help to get more women in the workforce but, only if they are enforced. Through measures that increase maternity and paternity leave, give access to daycares and increase female ownership it is possible to lay a foundation for female participation. Panelists highlighted laws in Germany and Norway that set quotas for female board members in companies which have lead to equal participation of men and women even after the quota was removed. In Jordan, where women rarely sit on the board, only 1% of the boards of the companies participating in the event were women, imposing regulations such as this can increase participation.

Overall, the event asked the question: how can we facilitate and accept change? For ARDD-Legal Aid, Our presence at the event gave us valuable insight on how we can work to make this happen. Through projects like ‘Lana’ and Women’s Access to Justice, ARDD-Legal Aid works to raise awareness about rights and regulations and empower women to achieve their full economic, legal and social potential. 

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