Local women craft community campaigns and advocate for women’s empowerment across Tafilah

Seven women’s community-based organizations launched a series of advocacy campaigns on women’s empowerment across seven districts of Tafilah, in western Jordan, with one hope: to empower marginalized women and girls in their local communities.

Date: Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Located in the remote district of Al-Hasa, a small building bustles with activity within as a group of a dozen Jordanian and Syrian women avidly strategizing over a mind-map of campaigning materials. They are working together on an advocacy campaign to enhance the maternal and child health-care services offered at the comprehensive health center in Al-Hasa.

Abla al-Hajaia, 30, Chairwoman of the Al-Hasa Charitable Society. Photo UN Women/ Lauren Rooney

“The lack of maternal services in the local community severely affects women and girls' access to reproductive health, emergency obstetric care and health education services," explains 30-year-old Abla al-Hajaia. 

Ever since taking on the role of Chairwoman of the Al-Hasa Charitable Society in 2016, she has been actively promoting women's issues in the local community and growing the association to the 80 members it has today. “I take on the voice of all of the women in Al-Hasa. They are suffering due to this issue and it is their right to have adequate access to such services. All women are entitled to their rights and needs.”

The Al-Hasa Charitable Society is one of seven community-based organizations (CBOs) being supported by UN Women to develop advocacy plans to enhance community’s engagement on gender needs in the governorate of Tafilah, through a programme being implemented in partnership with the Information and Research Center of the King Hussein Foundation (IRCKHF) and with the support of the Governments of Finland, France, Iceland, Italy and Zonta International Foundation, as well as UN Women National Committees. The programme seeks to empower women to become active agents of change in their community by advocating for their needs at the local level.

Majed Abu Azzam, IRCKHF Senior Research Analyst, joins Abla al-Hajaia and members of the Al-Hasa Charitable Society for a group photo. Photo UN Women/ Lauren Rooney (Image taken before COVID)

“We found that services for women are very weak in Tafilah. These sectors include education, health, employment and transportation,” says Majed Abu Azzam, IRCKHF Senior Research Analyst. “Women within these communities are often marginalized, so working with women and inspiring them to find their own voice in their own community to address gender-needs is incredibly important and empowering.” 

Each CBO undertook comprehensive training to enhance their capacity on gender, gender mainstreaming, policy, advocacy, monitoring and evaluation, which were led in collaboration with the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW). Afterwards, each CBO began working on advocacy campaigns dedicated to raising awareness of specific gender needs within their districts. The campaigns have been informed by a study undertaken by IRCKHF, which highlighted the issues women face in the Tafilah Governorate. 

Located 50 km away from Al-Hasa, in the village of Ain al-Bayda, 45 members of the Ain al-Bayda Society have also begun working on a campaign to reduce indebtedness among women by advocating for policies among lending institutions and increasing women’s awareness of financial penalties. 

Haleema al-Shabatat, 60, President of the Ain al-Bayda Society. Photo UN Women/ Lauren Rooney

Haleema al-Shabatat, 60, is now President of the Ain al-Bayda Society, after volunteering for the association since 1994. A strong supporter of the advancement of women and girls' rights, she has endeavoured to lead the drafting of the new gender advocacy campaign.

“Women dealing with debt has become a phenomenon not only in our local community but in many areas of Jordan,” she explains. “At our association here in Ain al-Bayda, we have recognized the steep rise of women facing severe consequences after agreeing to take loans from institutions and not being able to pay back the debt, including legal prosecution and imprisonment.” 

The other CBOs across Tafilah that are beginning their six-month advocacy campaigns include: Basha’er Ar-rahman Society, Buseira Society for Women, Women of Tafilah Association, Hibat Allah Society, and the Princess Basma Center. Learn more about their action and results.