Asma Khader, the Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women. She said there is a lack of female involvement in the economy in the region. Men are responsible for spending, even when the women work. Many women are working in Jordan because the family needs the money (Jordan is #4 poorest country in the world), and they are allowed in all jobs now. Khader said there needs to be more family friendly employment policies (i.e., work from home, flexibility, child care, etc.). Women retire when their employers tell them to do so—usually around the age of 45. This doesn’t allow them to advance very high.
Maha Khatib, senator, said, “Jordan has no natural resources, but we have brains and we have dreams.” She has lots of hope in the younger generation.
Abla Abu Olba, a member of Parliament, said, “In order to effect change, a woman should not play the role of the victim or the heroine.” She also said that to work for change a person must love people. She said the feminist movement has been occurring since the 1950’s.
Olba is in the center.
Rana Hajaya, mayor of Hassa, was only 26 years old when she was elected mayor. She is 33 now and serving her second term.
Eva Abu Halaweh is the executive director of Mizan, a law group for human rights. They provided legal aid to 12,000 people in Jordan last year. She won the International Women of Courage Awarded, presented by Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama just a few months ago.
Rana Husseini wrote an awesome book “Murder in the Name of Honour.” I highly recommend it. She graduated from Oklahoma City University!
Dr. Dua Fino shared with us her interpretations of Islamic law. She said that Islam views men and women as meriting equal treatment and it is up to men to make sure women are treated fairly. I asked her about the veil and she responded, “The dress requires people to focus on my mind and not my body.” She believes that covering the face is unnecessary and an example of custom and not religion. She believes in freedom of choice but personally believes the hijab is in accordance with Islamic law. Many of our other speakers did not wear a hijab (as you can see from the photos).
Leila Diab is a Christian in Amman. She is the director of the general federation of the YWCA. She said, “Christians did not come to the Middle East. Jesus was not born in New York.” There are about 2% of Jordanians are Christian. Many Christians choose to migrate to the Western world. She said that Christians enjoy freedom in Jordan and have 8 seats in Parliament. She said that if peace doesn’t exist in the Middle East then it cannot exist anywhere.
Sahar Khalifeh is a very well published author. She told us that it is important to have sympathy of men when it comes to women’s equality, but they should not be our leaders. We need women writers and to listen to women tell their stories. She believes that the Muslim Fundamentalist Movement is responding to the progress of women with oppression and this may be the reason we have seen the rise of head coverings of all types. She said, “You can’t push a woman to be strong, but you can give her role models in literature, the classroom, etc.”
Samia Zaru is an AMAZING artist. We visited her house, and I took LOT of photos. She also took us to the Children’s Museum that her son designed and the King Hussein Park, where she created a couple of murals. I made a BIG mistake at the park. I was told it was the worst sin. I need more time before I can write about it. I do feel awful about it.
My favorite piece in Zara's home.
Taken at the Children's Museum-One of my very favorite people in Jordan.
I'm trying to convince her to get a master's degree at NSU.
The mural at the King Hussein Park. This is about a fifth of it.
The Royal Family's family tree.
The Royal family is very important in Jordan.
I see King Abdullah's photo everywhere.
Two creators of www.7iber.com . The future of Jordan.
In the last couple of days, I’ve also had the opportunity to visit downtown and watch a couple of weddings from my hotel room.