Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development

Community Based Organizations Play Crucial Role in Inclusive Decision-Making

Christien van den Brink

Women in community-based organizations (CBOs) have an important role to play in the upcoming decentralization elections on August 15, which will increase the power of elected officials in regional and municipal decision-making on development issues. Many women in CBOs are deeply engaged in everyday politics, working to make a difference within their communities. Given the important role that CBOs play in community development, ARDD believes their members should take the opportunity to vote on August 15 and encourage their peers to participate as well.

In Baqa’a camp, the largest refugee camp in Jordan and one of ten Palestinian camps in the country, the Amal Association stands out in its work on women’s empowerment. The association, founded in 2006, is a CBO that provides free training and health services to women. ARDD supports Amal Association with its activities, trainings, and logistics. Amal Association has seven full-time staff members, twelve volunteers, and 70 women who do embroidery projects that help finance the organization. The organization has provided microfinance funding to sixteen business so far and provides financial assistance to about 80 families and help finding jobs to about 50 women.

The organization’s president, Amal Hassan Abu Hattab, a Palestinian refugee who lives in Baqa’a, sees a crucial link between women’s civic and political engagement. “When you build women’s capacity and make them engage at a societal level with a CBO, you also give them the agency to be outspoken and participate in the political life,” she says. “They will have the skills needed to participate politically and to voice their opinions regarding political matters.”

According to Amal, “If a woman participates in politics, it helps her grow, whether it be economically or socially. Women’s political participation matters because they can be positive actors in their communities and beyond.”

For more analysis of these issues, see ARDD’s May 2016 report on women’s political participation in Karak which studied the ways in which women’s participation there extends beyond formal politics. ARDD has previously written about a self-defense class hosted by Amal Association and published dispatches in 2014 and 2015 on the Amal Association’s role in Baqa’a.