GIZ is supporting women’s participation in society, politics and business in the Middle East. Like the predecessor project LEAD, the WoMENA project (Promoting Gender Responsive and Inclusive Politics and Economy in the MENA Region) is financed by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Together with partner The Jordanian National Commission for Women, GIZ is also promoting Nashmeiat, a network of women municipal politicians, as part of the project Strengthening Women Leaders and Their Meaningful Political Participation (WoPP).
Revisiting strong women in Jordan
Five years ago, akzente interviewed women elected to Jordan’s regional councils. Now we’re back in Jordan to visit them again.
The situation is less clear for Manar Abu Rumman. For three years, Manar served on the council of Al-Balqa governorate and worked on behalf of the people in this region, north-west of Amman. When she entered the race for the parliamentary election in 2020, Jordan was in the grip of the COVID-19 pandemic.
‘I saw that people were afraid to go to the polls in case they got sick. The isolation caused by the restrictions just exacerbated the fear,’ Manar says. In this situation, she tells us, men joined forces – for fear they might lose their seats to women. ‘Women often lack the money and the connections to run a campaign the way men do,’ she says. While she was supported by her family, she was unable to compete with the established networks of the men. And in fact she did fail to win a seat in parliament. When Manar shares the story of the election campaign, she can barely conceal her disappointment. ‘Communication was complicated and people were facing all kinds of economic, social and psychological challenges.’
Today, Manar is pursuing a career outside politics. Since 2021, she has worked for a large shipping company in Amman. In this job, not only has she gained professional experience in the import/export business; she has also broadened her understanding of economic and social problems. ‘Now I really understand the role of trade, and how challenges like rising diesel prices and logistical problems affect each and every person in the country.’
She is enjoying her new job. When we ask whether she would consider standing for election again, Manar says it would depend on the political conditions and her chances of winning. She still sees a great many challenges for women in Jordan.