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Multiple activities planned to mark Int’l Women’s Day

By Rana Husseini - Mar 07,2015 - Last updated at Mar 07,2015

AMMAN — Jordan marks International Women’s Day this week with multiple activities that highlight achievements and what still needs to be done to promote women’s rights.

On Saturday, Her Majesty Queen Rania congratulated Jordanian women on the occasion.

“Tomorrow marks International Women’s Day, and as we celebrate the remarkable achievements of women everywhere, and across all fields, I want to thank Jordanian women for their contributions and accomplishments; you make us proud. May we celebrate next year in a more peaceful and secure Arab world,” Queen Rania posted on her Facebook page. 

HRH Prince Feisal, president of the Jordan Olympic Committee, also issued a statement, calling for gender equality in the field of sports. 

“Chances are available for women to assume leading positions in all kinds of sports,” Prince Faisal said. 

On Sunday, HRH Princess Basma is scheduled to act as patron of a conference on “Women’s Access to Justice: Prospects and Perspectives”. 

Organised by the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development in partnership with the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW), the conference seeks to establish a forum for dialogue among practitioners, academia, and policy makers regarding women’s access to justice at local, regional and international levels. 

On Saturday, the JNCW, in collaboration with the government’s human rights coordination office, met with deputies and civil society representatives to exchange views on what should be included in the National Plan on Human Rights.

Activists agreed that women’s political and labour participation remains low and called on the organisers to urge the government to draft strategies that will boost women’s representation in these sectors.  

Activists also said women should have a minimum of 30 per cent representation in political life as stipulated in international conventions that Jordan ratified.  

In remarks at the meeting, activist Laila Naffa warned that women’s achievements in Jordan “are in danger” because of “the extreme cultural process that is forcing the government to succumb to extremists and conservative powers trying to take away many of the achievements and rights of women”.

“There are certain conventions or decisions, some related to violence against women, that are not being applied because certain religious authorities are halting the process,” Naffa charged.

JNCW Secretary General Salma Nims agreed with Naffa, stressing that “we have to fight extremist thoughts and spread and emphasise His Majesty King Abdullah’s message of tolerance and acceptance of the other.”

During the three-hour meeting, MIZAN Law Group Executive Director Eva Abu Halaweh called for the establishment of a family court to handle domestic abuse cases.

“I believe it is of extreme importance to establish a specialised family court that would handle abuse cases of women and children because many do not report abuse out of fear of going to regular courts,” Abu Halaweh explained.

Basel Tarawneh, the government coordinator for human rights, said all the points addressed on Saturday will be taken into consideration when preparing the final draft of the National Plan on Human Rights “that will be presented to Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour next week”.

On Monday, HRH Princess Rym Ali is scheduled to act as patron of an event organised by the UN Population Fund to launch a journalist handbook on gender-based violence in the Syria crisis.

On Saturday, several local organisations issued statements to mark International Women’s Day, celebrated annually on March 8.

The National Centre for Human Rights (NCHR) called for amending laws deemed discriminatory against women and drawing up a plan to increase their participating in leading positions.

In a statement carried by the Jordan News Agency, Petra, the centre called for increasing the women’s quota in the Lower House, which is currently 15 per cent of the chamber’s 150 seats.

Commending women’s achievements so far but noting that challenges still remain, the NCHR said the laws regulating labour unions and professional associations should be amended to allocate seats for women on their councils.

The JNCW praised the achievements made in the field of health and education, but said there are many challenges facing women in the legislative and cultural fields.

A Sisterhood is Global Institute (SIGI) statement said “empowering Jordanian women is an empowerment to Jordan.”

SIGI said men should “join hands with women to achieve equality and progress”.

“Many men realise the importance of gender equality and empowering women but some of them are hindered by harmful traditions against women. These men need encouragement to build a real partnership to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women,” SIGI said in the statement.

The Jordanian Society for Human Rights (JSHR) highlighted the situation of Arab women.

“There is a major setback when it comes to Arab women’s freedom and rights and their political, economic and social participation,” JSHR said.

Turning to Jordan, the society said women’s status is also witnessing a setback especially when it comes to their participation in politics and the labour market.

“Improving Jordanian women’s status is the responsibility of the government and society ... and any advancement will work towards the country’s progress.” 

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