Tafilah, Jordan—In Jordan, literacy and enrollment in all levels of education have improved dramatically for women. However, these gains have not led to meaningful improvements in their participation in decisions surrounding control of assets, family and personal matters, civil society, or policy. Women’s voices and literal visibility remain restricted by a combination of discriminatory laws and social norms.
A lack of vision or platform for women’s issues means civil society and political actors do not promote women’s rights. Women are rarely represented in political, economic, or public spheres, and voting rates and political activism among women is low.
NEF’s Youth Forums Initiative for Promoting Gender Equality, funded by the Embassy of the Netherlands in Amman, is providing this missing platform. Working with youth in Tafilah, NEF aims to change the attitudes and cultural norms that keep women at home and dependent on male breadwinners.
At the grassroots-level, NEF is creating 10 youth forums in 5 youth centers and 10 area schools to provide tailor-made trainings in women’s rights, activism, leadership, social media, and campaigning. At the government-level, NEF is creating a network of youth forums, funding youth-led initiatives, and facilitating advocacy for this mission to municipal governments. By working to make young people more capable with regard to civic participation and challenging gender inequality in their communities, NEF is making way for social and policy change.
The overwhelming majority of the youth participating are driven, confident, young women and girls who express a strong desire to change traditional attitudes about the roles of women in their community. With the support and participation of their male counterparts, these young people are challenged to come up with powerful ideas on how to change the hearts and minds of greater society through public marketing campaigns and leadership initiatives.
NEF recently trained 20 members of youth centers in a “Training of Trainers” program where young men and women learned key skills to promote and train others on gender equality.
When asked why she participates as a youth trainer in the program, Danya, a young woman who recently graduated with a degree in agricultural engineering said, “To raise the voices of women.”
Another trainer, a young man named Emad has been an incredible advocate of the project. He was invited to an in-person round table meeting with King Abdullah to represent NEF’s Gender Equality Youth Forum where he and the other invited youth leaders from all over Jordan met to discuss matters related to youth participation in civil society and policy making.
Part of NEF’s work in Tafilah is also to educate parents and teachers about women’s rights and youth participation in civic life. NEF believes that parent and teacher participation is critical to propelling this movement forward as they are the greatest influencers in young people’s lives.
Ultimately, the project will reach over 2,000 community members.
To read more about our work in Jordan, click here.