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Activists protest in Parliament gallery to demand better women representation in Lower House

By Rana Husseini - Feb 21,2016 - Last updated at Feb 21,2016

Deputies discuss the draft elections law during a Lower House session on Sunday (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN — Activists wearing red chequered scarves with stickers reading one seat for women in each constituency occupied part of Parliament’s gallery on Sunday to reiterate their demands.

Around 150 individuals, mostly women, came from various parts of the Kingdom to demand better representation for women in the Lower House of Parliament.

The men and women, part of a national coalition that is demanding a seat for women in each constituency, sat in the gallery and watched the debate that was taking place among deputies on the draft elections law.

Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Secretary General Salma Nims said the coalition members will come every time there is a session.

“We want to emphasise our demands that were ignored by the government in hopes that they might be considered during the deliberation,” Nims told The Jordan Times.

Activist Fatmeh Ensour, part of the coalition, said she wants to be present to support these demands.

“We want to see more women in the Lower House. Jordanian women have proved themselves in all fields, including the Lower House, and that is why we want to see more women representing us,” Ensour told The Jordan Times.

The decision to escalate the coalition’s protest was made after the Lower House Legal Committee last week endorsed the 2015 draft elections law without taking into consideration the women movement’s demands.

The coalition was demanding that the bill stipulate having one woman elected for each of the 23 constituencies stipulated in the draft law.

This would mean increasing the current 15-seat quota for women to 23. 

Currently, there are 18 women in Parliament, 15 from the quota and 3 who won in direct elections.

Under the 2015 elections bill, the number of Lower House members has been reduced from 150 to 130, based on the open proportional list at the district level.

Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh welcomed the presence of the coalition at the opening session.  

Several MPs joined the coalition briefly to express their support for the women’s movement, pledging to fight for their demands under the Dome.

They included, according to a JNCW statement, MPs Rula Hroub, Wafa Bani Mustafa, Shaha Abu Shosheh, Falak Jamani, Najah Azzeh, Tamam Riyati, Samir Oweis, Fawaz Zu’bi, Abdullah Khalidi and Adnan Ajarmeh.

 

Women leaders told The Jordan Times in previous remarks that both the government and the Lower House Legal Committee have turned their backs on the women movement’s demands.

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