A Sustainable Movement needs Collaborations and Partnerships
Promoting the social, political and economic empowerment of women is not a new idea in Jordan. Women have been campaigning since the creation of the Jordanian Women’s Union in 1945 to ensure the recognition and inclusion of women in all spheres of life. With significant barriers to female participation still apparent, the ‘Lana’ project is committed to building on and contributing to this long history. But by no means do we think we are alone in this endeavor. There are many community based organizations (CBOs) and NGOs committed to facilitating this change from the ground up. With an eye to partnerships and collaboration, we have been reaching out and teaming up with a number of organizations in both East Amman and Zarqa to do just this. We are inspired by their work and wanted to highlight some of the great and varied ways each are increasing female participation in their respective communities.
A Place to Talk
The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) has been actively striving to empower women through the establishment of Women’s Committees. These committees serve as spaces for women to freely discuss issues that affect them and raise awareness on women’s rights. JOHUD told us that many women have been elected to local councils following involvement in the Women’s Committees which they believe to be a result of a sense of empowerment gained through participation.
Following a similar mandate the Princess Basma Youth Resource Centre (PBYRC) attempts to stimulate a culture of youth participation that uses democratic thinking practices. Importantly the Centre is for youth, by youth; with the aim of developing critical and creative thought about roles in society and how to shape the future through ownership over the programs.
In a society that does not always enable the voices of women and youth; the importance of safe spaces cannot be overestimated. It is only when individuals feel empowered to speak freely and openly about issues affecting their lives and, importantly, in a safe and supportive environment that the first signs of change can occur.
Women can do anything
Other organisations have been focusing on building the skills base of women in their area and through this attempt to change societies views about what women can do. Empowering Women through Media Project from Huna Zarqa Newspaper in Zarqa is actively trying to work against the belief that the woman’s place is only in the home. They has been training young women to become journalists in Zarqa, where women are largely underrepresented in the workforce due to the conservative nature of the province. The Director of the project told us that through this initiative women have an increased capacity to have a voice in society and to choose a lifestyle for themselves. In undertaking this project, her goal is to change society starting with the individual and empower women along the way.
Another area of skills development is undoubtedly the university sector. The Centre for Women’s Studies at the University of Jordan has supported the development of women’s skills through delivering trainings on leadership, decision making, procedure, communication and more. From these experiences women have gone on to work for the UN, NGOs and the government where they are actively contributing to changing the understanding of women’s roles in Jordan.
While programs in Huna Zarqa and Women’s Studies Centre are coming from different sectors they are both striving towards building the skills base of women to become equal partners in society. We at ‘Lana’ stand hand in hand with such initiatives and look forward to the development of a society where all have equal opportunities in all spheres of life.
Let’s Do it Together
Change is the result of many actors working together from the ground, all the way up to policy development. Through supportive and collaborative partnerships with local CBOs and NGOs we are keen to create a social movement that addresses the major issues that limit the potential of female participation in Jordanian society. The biggest challenges we face in achieving this is the ongoing social stigma surrounding women’s rights, logistical and funding challenges and, this is a big one, competition between NGOs. We are hoping to overcome these challenges by increasing conversations between CBOs, NGOs and Strategic Change Makers through the Apex Fora, as substantial and sustainable change cannot happen when we act alone.