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الموقع تحت الإنشاء

النسخة التجريبية من موقع النهضة العربية (أرض)

The Jordanian and Arab Feminist Movement: Just as challenges exist, so do Hope and Inspiration
Naqsh (8) “Al-Nahda Women”


March of this year has passed with its various celebrations, reminding us of International Women’s Day, at a time when the Arab region is suffering from wars and crises and the subsequent poor political and economic conditions, which greatly affected all files of protecting and empowering women, with an influx of reports of systematic violence committed against women and girls as a result of these conditions.

Meanwhile the most notable women’s reactions were limited to holding celebrations, regular conferences, meetings, and hundreds of similar seminars, as well as celebrating women reaching leadership positions in government and civil institutions, as a formality in most cases, while the role of the Jordanian and Arab women’s movement in major political, social, and economic issues remained absent, and their voice was marginalized at the decision-making table in many situations related to wars and conflicts, despite Queen Rania’s attempts to deliver messages to the United Nations about double standards, providing moral and financial support to Gaza, and leading the demands for rights and accountability for the positions of some countries towards our region. However, according to many observers and current periodic reports issued by various official and unofficial bodies, there is a decline in the influence of the Jordanian women’s movement and the Arab women’s movement in general, despite the great and valued efforts by some, which today raises the alarm about the reasons for this decline and its withdrawal from the public scene, and tries to search for ways to rectify their situation and strengthen the role of the relevant institutions

Here, members of Al Nahda Women’s Network, one of the networks of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD), presented, in its monthly dialogue (Naqsh), contrasting topics and views on adapting the status of the feminist movement, how to spread hope and inspiration to new generations, finding the momentum that is supposed to contribute to society with the active participation of women, and continuing to work on issues related to women at the national and regional levels.

According to the members, there is a decline in feminist discourse and a move away from real participation in political life, which is a regression rather than a decline, especially with the escalation of the current that is limited to development demands at the basic level, or in response to simple community projects and initiatives put forward by foreign institutions, which creates a lot of buzz, but without any benefit or impact on society, or even raising awareness of women’s issues.

Some members attributed the decline of the feminist movement in terms of human rights and politics as part of the overall decline of all other sectors, and that there is no longer a global focus on women’s rights and empowerment in favor of focusing on the rights of the vulnerable in general, which include women.

As for Jordan, the members warned that there are great challenges facing the feminist movement, for various reasons, some of which may be mistakes committed by the women’s movement itself that led to the decline of its role, as well as the withdrawal of some women leaders from the scene for various reasons, including feeling useless. And despite the high percentage of education among women, as one member pointed out, the percentage of education for women does not reflect the ability to overcome the great challenges facing them, and it is often education and not learning, “If it were deep learning, the women in our country would be different”.



Some participants in the “Naqsh” dialogue also added that, as a result of all the above, a feminist movement parallel to the historical movement has emerged and is starting to emerge on the local scene, but with shallow interests that lack the right knowledge and tools, and that it “prepares itself for positions and has pulled the carpet from under the feet of those who have experience in this important matter,” away from real women’s issues, and has spread to the governorates through election laws and  the projects of charitable and development organizations that do not necessarily aim to fundamentally address women’s and society’s issues, adding that, “We usually find leading generations of women human rights activists who have had more influential militant roles as well as partisan and political experience than the current generation, in order to develop their experiences over the years and commit to the causes for which they work, but this generation was limited to the first rank and was not accompanied by building future generations.”

Gaza… an opportunity to reprioritize

The Gaza war and the crimes committed in it have shed light on the decline of the women’s movement, as pointed out by one of the members, saying: “Our demand for justice for Palestinian women and the lifting of injustice practiced against them was made through messages that only went as far as the United Nations, and did not achieve anything or any impact, neither in terms of quality nor quantity, even compared to what the West itself contributed to our cause, and this is also the case for women’s issues in Yemen, Syria, Sudan, and other countries.”

However, despite the desperate situation, the Jordanian women’s movement continued to call for respect for international humanitarian law, which has been continuously violated due to the continuous bombardment of civilians in Gaza by the occupation forces, and Jordanian women’s organizations appealed to European member states to urge them under international law to issue unequivocal condemnations of Israeli crimes in Gaza, stop their support for the Israeli occupation, exert pressure to stop the aggression on the population of Gaza, and refrain from exerting influence to displace them from their homes, while facilitating the urgent delivery of medical and humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

Once again, women have tried to do to their duty in this context without tools that contribute to shaping a state on which to build and correct their course.

They also pointed out to the absence of real and effective advocacy for Gazan women, whether in terms of relief efforts or human rights, and that even international occasions have not been properly employed to draw the attention of the peoples of the world to the suffering of women in Gaza.


The Feminist movement… collective action in local contexts

The members, who believe in defending the need for a strong feminist human rights movement that builds on its struggles and historical achievements, demanded that women take a moment to do some introspection and reconsider their discourse and priorities, to refute the hostile discourse on social media platforms, which was only confronted by individual attempts here and there, and was not influential in crises.

In the words of the members of the network, Jordan is teeming with opportunities and attracting factors for feminist work, but the impact is small and does not exceed amendments to legislation, and the focus is usually limited to cities and is far from the governorates, adding that “We do not see a unified feminist mindset, but individual leaders who possess leadership qualities that might help them reach leadership positions, which has become the goal.”

The members also saw that “the predominance of international organizations and foreign funding has added more chaos to the already chaotic scene, and programs and projects have become based on the priorities of the donor, in the absence of local support, let alone the competition to obtain funding, the depth of the problem of competition, individualism, and personalization in raising issues.”

Some members stated in their comments that there has been “an improvement in human rights social work, and then a return to a mixture of social development and human rights action, but it is not the improvement we want in the bicentenary of the Jordanian state.”

In an view that hangs in the middle between “regression and progress”, the members saw that the feminist movement did not regress, but rather with the multiplicity of goals, topics, and priorities on the ground, and the emergence of many parties and initiatives supporting various development goals and with poor coordination between them, there is no real momentum capable of change anymore.

The members added that “there is no real umbrella capable of bringing everyone together or even speaking in the name of the majority, which resulted in the fragmentation of work and workers, in the absence of a culture of planning and evidence-based teamwork, as research and knowledge production centers did not even contribute adequately to providing more support for the indicators of achievement and the overall progress required, and isolated themselves in a technical language intelligible only to those working in this field and according to the priorities of fragmented research projects limited to the study of minor issues, without the ability to consider the major issues.

Some members noted that one of the reasons for the decline is “the diversity and prevalence of the means of communication these days, especially social  media, as most of what we see or hear reaches us  through them, and there is a belief that achievement is what is broadcast on social media. Hence, there are  many thought leaders and initiatives that do not use  these platforms or do not interact with them, but this does not mean that there is no work on the ground.”

One member added that “There is indeed an active group on social media that speaks with a feminist tone, but it is far from thinking about all or fighting for women’s rights, and I do not blame anyone because it is a different discourse, so it is possible to lead to an unfair judgment on feminism.”

As for journalistic or media work that advocates for women’s issues, it is also unsupported and unorganized, and the voice of women is muffled there due to the absence of collective frameworks, as well as the preoccupation with other professional priorities.”

Some female media professionals concluded by saying, “We suffer from the fragmentation of feminist discourse, as each group has its own motives and goals, which clash with the motives and goals of other groups. What we are witnessing is separate and seasonal scattered efforts to improve the status of women, although there is a remarkable development in the presence of women in the labor market and politics, but it is limited, and it comes as a result of individual favorable circumstances related to the person of the woman, her family, or her supporting entity.” Therefore, “what we need is more organization, networking, and confidence in the importance of feminist media and its support.”

The members added that what deepens the problem is that, in recent years, despite supporting the official orientations of women’s agendas, financial support has been limited to what the foreign donor provides ineffectively for projects within the framework of development organizations. Therefore, the majority of these organizations seek to implement (externally) funded activities where there is generally no financial sustainability in the national authorities or innovation in diversifying the sources of funding, save for a few exceptions. There is insufficient coordination between these foreign parties themselves. Each funding institution has limited programmatic and time frameworks that do not necessarily support the integrated work between all concerned parties. It is also not concerned with addressing the larger problems, but rather focuses on limited measurable goals and achieving their effects during the project period, so we do not find sustainable programs that work to support institutions with clear strategic objectives, or that support women and girls away from the idea of instant services or campaigns to advocate for a cause on a global international occasion.

There is also a challenge represented by the agendas of these political entities, which may move away from some of the real societal issues as a result of their positions on these issues in their countries. For example, you would not find funding or advocacy activities supported by these parties that talk about Palestine or the rights of Gazan women.”

In their view, this is what led to accusations of treason and collaboration with external parties that detached society from its customs, social traditions and religious concepts, until the word (feminism) in the public space, especially on social media, has come to be used by way of accusation or mockery. This was accompanied by efforts from various parties to divert the civil society compass from human rights files to political files and settling personal accounts.”

The members also added that “there was a strategic mistake for many women involved in feminist work, which is westernizing the discourse and putting forward copied ideas without going deeper into the extent of their compatibility and suitability in the general social and political context in which we live, while it would have been more useful to resort to the local context for its diversity and its needs, to support the human rights discourse that supports women’s issues and human rights in general.

The members concluded that “despite the attempts by many entities to correct the course and gather the contributors to the feminist movement to agree on the priorities of work, these attempts were not adequately supported by the official institutions, and there were structural obstacles represented in the instructions and laws of community work which turned the effort into a fragmented and individual effort in general,  worsened by “Promoting women’s success stories as individual cases, although this is required, but it does not actually reflect the fairness of opportunities and empowerment for all in an organized collective manner.

As challenges exist, so do hope and inspiration

The members added that there is “a renewed glimmer of hope today that we see in young generations, especially after the war on Gaza, and which we will find in a more comprehensive and realistic manner in various human rights issues, including women’s issues.”

There are also achievements, albeit small, but they are important and it is imperative that we continue to work on them and not leave these achievements to regress, by analyzing these challenges, developing programs and plans to address them collectively, and advocating with the official authorities to support these efforts and pave the way to progress steadily, despite the competing priorities.

The members stressed the need to establish an identity for the movement that could be passed down and built on through generations, stemming from local contexts, and building on local, national, regional, and international achievements in order to contribute to the progress of women at all levels, which has the greatest impact to achieve a real renaissance for them and their society as a whole.

As a result, the struggle for social justice and equality in Jordan continues, and there is a responsibility on everyone to ensure that the future generations will enjoy well-being and security, and to realize the different aspirations of women and girls and their families.