Eight years of achievements and giving were not challenge-free for Dr Salma Al Nims, who is ending a chapter of her career as the Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW). Her new journey begins with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). It was important for the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) to honor Dr Salma and her years of work with the presence of civil society representatives and partners. ARDD hosted Dr Salma in a session of the “Al Arba’tain” dialogue series to go over her experience and honor her activism since the nineties in the areas of human rights, women’s rights, and social justice.
Eman Abu Qaoud, the Networks and Coalitions Coordinator at ARDD started by inviting participants to join a minute of silence for the victims of the “Al Lweibdeh Building”. She expressed the duty of celebrating Dr Salma Al Nims who had undeniably left an impact and left no issue she specialized in untackled.
The session facilitator, Samar Muhareb, CEO of ARDD said: “we shared Dr Salma Al Nims’s interests and work for eight fruitful and exciting years. She was a supportive, uplifting, and guiding partner for many women and girls-focused programs and worked on changing the reality of women in line with the current political will.”
She added: “we did not have to test her loyalty as she proved it on many challenging cases such as women’s access to justice. I remember clearly when she bravely ran the campaign for abolishing Article 308 of the Penal Code. She travelled all around the Kingdom while working on the National Strategy for Women, was close to women and their issues in villages and camps, worked hard to align with the 2030 sustainable development goals, and led the development of the Jordanian National Action Plan (JONAP) for advancing the implementation of the UN. Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security.”
Al Nims denied that any achievements on the women’s rights front are to be attributed to her or JNCW alone, and stressed they were the fruits of the collective feminist efforts in Jordan accumulated over decades.
She added she “tirelessly sought to institutionalize JNCW into a national institution capable of working collaboratively with the government and civil society in a way where it never competes with other institutions.” She commends the support of civil society and its role in the success of various projects in the women’s rights arena.
Speaking about the challenges she faced working with JNCW, she said it was “shared with and similar to those of the political, rights, and social fields in Jordan and the Arab region. They manifest in the inability to unite forces and align priorities of women’s rights issues, the lack of sufficient local funding, the dominant discourse against civil society, the absence of political will to address human rights issues, and the strong upholding of formalities and immediate outcomes, leading to the death of human rights issues due to differences and the political movements.”
As for her new role with ESCWA, she confirmed the alignment of the institutions’ values with hers in terms of the Palestinian question and that she will invest in this matter through supportive governments and agreements with civil society. She concluded by saying that “my love and bias toward Jordan will push me to work for it, especially in terms of implementing the Women, Peace, and Security agenda. I hope everyone continues to collaborate with JNCW, especially since change is not easy and must be given time. I hope the new management is given the chance to get to know more about opportunities for collaboration and networking with other national institutions.”
Dr Mohammad Miqdadi Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs said: “Salma is passionate about participatory work, she is a hard and honest worker, putting her in many a trouble, but I am sure this is what made her a fierce and believing model for human rights defenders.”
Participants said Al Nims had brought everyone closer when she succeeded in breaking the ice with civil society and media and academic institutions and built strong relationships with them. She competently defended feminist issues and supported second and third-row leadership, something required to ensure its decentralization. Al Nims had constant communication with the media and governmental institutions to ensure clarity. She supported women’s political participation and did her job out of love for her country. People believed in her ideas as she was close and similar to the public.
The network and its members from the civil society leading organizations confirmed their continuous support for JNCW and its new management to push the women’s rights agenda further.