H.E. Reem Abu Hassan

Former Minister of Social Development in Jordan

First Euro-Med Regional Dialogue: From strengthening the role of women in society to gender-equality policy making
Amman 3 February 2016

The speech of H.E. Ms. Reem Abu Hassan, Former Minister of Social Development in Jordan

Women’s rights have always been, both regionally and internationally, a rich subject for study and research, an open platform for objective discussion, and a field for planning and policy-making.
Women’s rights, diagnostically, is a fairly obvious issue which manifests in the low rates of female participation on the economic, political, and social levels, as performance indexes in many different countries around the world indicate, and especially in developing and underdeveloped countries. 

On the economic level, women are poorer and less employed than men. On the political, male membership in civil society organizations and their resolution to file candidacy and vote is higher than women. As for the social level, women face more domestic and societal abuse than men. 

The reason women’s rights is a fairly obvious and straightforward issue is the blatant discrimination women face from their respective societies’ institutions and communities, which is one of the main reasons CEDAW was internationally adopted. 

Women’s rights is widely studied by many regional and international reports. International interventions in women’s rights, however, was summed up in the second goal in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, which aims to enhance gender equality and woman empowerment. This goal, like other goals in the United Nations Millennium Development Goals, was not achieved in many countries in the world in the years 2000-2015, for a number of reasons, including the outbreak of armed conflicts in some Arab countries, such as Syria, Libya, and Iraq. In these countries, as in others, armed conflict caused the forced migration of civilians, among whom were women, to neighboring countries, such as Jordan. 

Jordan has witnessed three migration waves since the beginning of this millennium. The first was in 2003, after the Iraq war. The second was in 2011, as a result of the Syrian civil war. And the third was in 2014, after the cruel and barbaric actions of the terrorist organization, ISIL, against civilians in Iraq, led to the migration of thousands of Mosul’s Christians. 

Jordan, which currently hosts about one million and four hundred thousand Syrian refugees on its lands, welcomed those refugees, even though it suffers from resource limitations. International community also left Jordan alone, and its people shared with their refugee guests living resources. In fact, Jordan even provided some social services for refugees, such as allowing them in the Family Welfare Association in the north provinces in 2015 to protect female Syrian refugees and their children from domestic abuse. A fifth of the recipients of the Family Welfare Association services are Syrian refugees; a third of juvenile delinquents in juvenile detention centers are Syrian refugees; a fifth of arrested beggars are Syrian refugees; and many other social phenomena such as child marriage and child labor and a variety of social and economic upheavals such as the soaring of rent prices, etc., are all social phenomena Syrian migration produced. Suffice it to say that Jordan has endured a lot as a result of Syrian migration and has a resilience and national response plan to manage the repercussions of Syrian migration on host communities. This plan focuses on the aspect of social protection, with many programs aimed to protect women from all types of violence, empower them economically and socially, and integrate them in society. We hope the international community help finance this plan. 

Regional intervention in women’s rights and the status of women’s rights in the Arab world was summarized in the second report the UN Development Program (UNDP) published with the aid of a number of Arab organizations at the beginning of the millennium, titled Towards the Rise of Women in the Arab World. Absent in that report were revisions and periodic evaluations for its conclusions and recommendations. Whereas those same interventions were summarized in the EuroMed conferences held in Marrakesh, Istanbul, Paris, and Barcelona among other cities, which gave specific recommendations this conference is to ensure the implementation of.  

Ladies and gentlemen,
For a realistic diagnosis of women’s rights, which remains a priority in international, regional, and national conferences such as the ones held in Marrakesh, Istanbul, Paris, and Barcelona among others, we need to remember the goals of sustainable development, which the international community has adopted in September 2015, and implement all of them, including the fifth one which states: achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls. 

We in Jordan as a joint leadership will work in unity on adopting recommendations related to women’s rights in the upcoming ministerial conference – recommendations which take in consideration global developments, crucial among which is the Syrian refugee crisis and the emergence of radical groups. In addition, we will try to establish a bond between the goals of sustainable development which the international community has adopted, and especially between the fifth goal, which stresses achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls, and the recommendations the next ministerial conference will issue. We hope this fine gathering will provide us with a road map to guide us in our upcoming work. We shall also coordinate with the EuroMed secretary and representative to this end. 

And speaking of sustainable development, we in Jordan have a national vision which expresses our hopes in the period 2015-2025, and which revolves around the elements of society, country, government, and work environment. Each of these elements have subsidiary elements, such as society, which includes the element of community protection, represented by Jordanian social work, which deserves the issuance of a unified law to govern it and the reestablishment of a unified strategy, and the reinforcement of social responsibility to be included as a prerequisite for Total Quality Management. Because all those elements in this vision help ultimately in empowering women and the strengthening their roles in society.

I also want to point out that Jordan has established a higher ministerial committee to empower women and support women’s rights. The function of this committee is to take cases related to women’s rights and manage them with the help of ministries and policy makers. This committee is one of the leading examples in the region, since it directly supports The Jordanian National Commission for Women and aims to ensure the implementation of policies and strategies related to women’s participation and empowerment from all ministries and governmental organizations and thus establish women’s rights as a national priority. 

This is why we hope that our efforts will benefit this conference, encourage the exchange of experiences and achievements, and be a step further in implementing the ministerial recommendations relating to woman empowerment and issued in the Paris conference in 2013. 

We thank The Euro-Med Feminist Initiative and the European Union for supporting this important regional workshop, and we thank all the participants and experts from all over the world for being present in this important conference. 

We in the Ministry of Social Development welcome you to Jordan and wish you a happy stay in your second country. We also wish this meeting all the best and hope its goals will be achieved. 

Thank you.

H.E. Ms. Reem Abu Hassan, Former Minister of Social Development in Jordan

Feb 2016