AMMAN — With 19 women winning Wednesday’s parliamentary elections for the first time in the Kingdom’s history, activists said on Saturday this has set the stage for a “new era” for women in Jordan.
“The results are a new era and a big step forward for women in Jordan; they prove that women can assume decision-making positions effectively,” said Jordanian National Commission for Women Secretary General Asma Khader.
As it stands now, the percentage of women represented in the 150-seat 17th Lower House of Parliament is 12.7 per cent.
Fifteen of the 19 women won through a women’s quota, two won by direct competition in Amman and Jerash and two women won via their national lists.
Nine of the winners have previous parliamentary experience, while the rest will be serving for the first time under the Dome.
The fact that two women won outside the quota, including a former deputy, is a clear indication that women in Jordan “are continuing to prove themselves in the local and social arenas”, Khader told The Jordan Times.
Deputy Wafaa Bani Mustafa, a lawyer, clinched fourth place in Jerash’s 4th District with 3,939 votes, while Mariam Lozi, a school principal, won 3,631 votes in Amman’s 5th District, the highest.
“Bani Mustafa proved to be a great asset for women while serving in the previous parliament and she had strong views on other national issues, thus, convincing voters in her district to re-elect her,” Khader explained.
Meanwhile, Lozi had a strong presence in her community through her post as a school principal for over 20 years, and it paid off on election day, Khader added.
Secretary General of the Jordanian National Forum for Women May Abul Samen also praised the win of 19 women.
“This is an indication that society’s view of women is starting to change and people are more convinced with women’s performances politically and socially,” she said.
Abul Samen told The Jordan Times that the win of two women who headed national lists was a “true indicator that women are starting to assume stronger roles in their own political parties”.
Journalist Rula Hroub’s Strong Jordan list won two seats in Parliament, while the Abla Abu Olbeh-led Democratic Renaissance list won one seat, after the Independent Elections Commission announced that her ticket, instead of Hazem Qashou’s Citizenship list won a seat.
“The ball is now in the women’s movement’s court… They have to work hard to ensure more women will win in future elections and that they will lobby for women to become stronger elements in political parties,” Abul Samen said.
Last week, the National Democratic Institute (NDI) observer delegation, which included 50 observers from 29 countries, made several recommendations that it said could enhance the integrity of future elections and build citizens’ confidence, such as drafting regulations to encourage political competition and the formation of coalitions and political parties.
Meanwhile, the European Union Election Observation Mission said in a statement on January 25 that women’s participation in national lists was weak.
“Out of the 61 national tickets, only two were headed by women. In other lists, female candidates were usually listed on the fifth position or below, and had thus relatively few chances to get elected,” according to the delegation’s statement.
Both Khader and Abul Samen voiced hope that the 19 elected women will work towards women’s issues and seek changes to laws that discriminate against women in addition to their role as deputies of the nation.
Activist Emily Naffa also praised the rise in the number of women MPs but said that the percentage should have been 30 per cent as recommended by the United Nations.
“We hope that Jordan will abide by the UN conventions and we will reach the day when women are represented in various walks of life with a minimum of 30 per cent,” Naffa said.
Nevertheless, Naffa told The Jordan Times that “the increase in the number of women deputies is a small step in a long road to enhance women’s influence at parliament and elsewhere”.