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By Noura el-Turk

ANHRE organizes its first workshop on gender equality and advocacy

The Arabic Foundation for Civil Education (ANHRE) Foundation, a Jordanian civil society organisation held its first workshop on gender equality and advocacy as part of the Hivos Women Empowerment for Leadership program from 7t to 10t of January 2017. Eighteen women from 9 Jordanian provinces participated.

It is one of two workshops that will be held alongside a series of other activities aimed empowering women in their communities, increasing their involvement in political and social decision-making developing their understanding of gender equality.

ANHRE works towards the adoption of policies and legislation that promote and enforce of human rights, equality and social justice in Jordan, through advocacy, capacity and network building. They believe that women’s voices and active social and political involvement are a crucial point in achieving gender equality equality and social balance. The workshop sought to raise awareness on women’s rights and needs and to promote their involvement in civic decision-making.

2017 Jordanian local elections: an opportunity for women’s civic engagement

Women voters and election monitors during the 15 August 2017 Jordanian provincial elections © Hivos

ANHRE’s project within the Hivos WE4L programme comes in the aftermath of the recent provincial elections which were held for the first time on 15 August 2017 Jordan as per the 2014 decentralisation law, in which the government relinquished some of its of authority to local governments.

The role of the provincial councils is to approve budgets and control local development projects. Rather then submitting the budgets to the central government, the councils can now approve and amend the projects on their own (in collaboration with the municipalities).

This shift in power allows the people to be more engaged with and influential over social and political developments in their communities. Likewise, the council is better able to assess their needs.

Despite political reforms challenges remain

However, many challenges remain especially in terms of the inclusion of women in local politics and society. Dominated by tribal networks, the local political system continues to marginalize women. Tribes tend to organise, segregate and influence internally within their communities, largely leaving out women.
Women also face other structural and societal obstacles. Lack of freedom of movement (especially transportation), financial independence, work opportunities, and networking capacities and over ones decisions are obstacles that inhibit women’s development. Furthermore, many women are expected to fulfil traditional gender roles as housewives and care-givers. They are often unable to leave their provinces and are limited to agricultural and educational positions at most.

Promoting gender equality

Participants during the ANHRE workshop on women's civic engagement, 8 January 2018.

To increase female participation in local politics, ANHRE is working with women to expand their reach within the provincial council. Encouraging women to adopt gender sensitive attitudes and getting them involved in decisions in local councils would give women leading positions in their provinces and promote gender inclusive communities.

AHNRE’s workshop in January 2018 introduced the topics of gender equality, gender sensitivity and gender mainstreaming over 4 days of intensive training.

During their training, the participants had several exercises concerning advocacy, gender inclusion and leadership skill building. At the end of the workshop, the participants were asked to transfer their new knowledge to 20 women of their respective provinces. The aim is to create a network of 360 women that will be trained and equiped with the necessary skills to hold leading positions, and the knowledge to spread further awareness in their communities.