Women's Access to Justice Phase II
Women’s Access to Justice (WAJ) Phase II is a regional project implemented in partnership with Oxfam and funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland. The project’s aim is to reduce the vulnerability and suffering of disadvantaged women by building on their human capital, facilitating their access to the legal system and securing just outcomes. WAJ Phase II introduced new programming in Egypt and Yemen, while expanding its prior programs in Jordan and Lebanon. WAJ Phase II will be implemented in Amman and Zarqa governorates in Jordan.
WAJ Phase II is a three year project that seeks to create change at four distinct levels:
The Constitution of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan states all “Jordanians shall be equal before the law,” but there are many obstacles that obstruct this guaranteed right. Women are subject to stringent cultural norms many of which are reinforced by the law itself. Many women simply are unaware of their rights afforded to them under the law. Others choose not to claim their rights out of the fear of being ostracized by their family or community. The legal system can be very intimidating for women. Often the judicial process is completely foreign to them and the vast majority of the court clerks and lawyers are men. All Shari’a court judges are men. Women are further discouraged from claiming their rights by bureaucratic procedures like long waiting periods due to heavy case loads and costly legal fees.
Even for the few women who decide to risk being stigmatized and move forward with their cases they face significant economic barriers. Jordan has among the lowest rate of women participation in the economy in the world. That means the vast majority of Jordanian women never formally participate in the labor market and in most cases completely dependent financially on their families. For many women these obstacles seem insurmountable and for that reason many do not claim their rights even in the most serious of cases like domestic abuse, forced marriage or abandonment.
WAJ uses a comprehensive approach to support women in their attempts to access justice. ARDD-Legal Aid seeks to strengthen the agency of women by informing them of their rights and entitlements as citizen. Through legal empowerment sessions women will learn how to navigate the justice system in Jordan to access the rights enshrined to them under the Constitution. The WAJ program also seeks to empower women by encouraging them to become more assertive in exercising their agency. ARDD-Legal Aid will hold workshops on stress management, effective decision making, and leadership skills. These workshops aim to build off the human capital of underprivileged women and refine their leadership skills so that they can better advocate on their own behalf. WAJ Phase II takes a holistic approach to enabling women’s access to justice by providing psychosocial support to help women cope with their personal challenges and strengthen their resilience. WAJ Phase II will also work to address the economic barriers that prevent women from acting independently by emphasizing economic empowerment and referring the most vulnerable to partnered economic empowerment organizations.
ARDD-Legal Aid seeks to expand on the success of WAJ Phase I (May 2011-July 2014) by focusing on creating change in the community and at a national level by engaging in advocacy and awareness campaigns on women’s rights. WAJ Phase II will connect with various stakeholders from the community; media and government in order to breakdown the social and legal barriers that obstruct women’s access to justice and dignity. The project is based on a theory of change that creates social transformation at an individual, community, structural and regional level that cumulates in the creation of an environment in which women are able to claim their rights through judicial institutions supported by their communities. WAJ will specifically enlist decision makers like: Shari’a court judges, municipal court personnel, likeminded NGOs, journalists, community leaders and women themselves to make a change both in Jordan and across the region. The WAJ program also seeks to amplify the voice of vulnerable women so that not only can they access their rights, but play a leading role in creating the law that enshrines those rights.