What About the Women?!

By Jumana Ghunaimat

تم نشره في Wed 19 July / Jul 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Jumana Ghunaimat

Sadly, the women’s participation rates for the upcoming decentralised Municipality and Local Elections are disappointing.

If one doesn’t know better, they’d think women actually couldn’t care less; a one per cent participation rate by all means, only confirms it.

Women, who comprise nearly half of our society, seem to be uninterested in making decisions which effect their own lives even.

Out of 1,315 runners for the upcoming election next month, only 119 women signed up.

For mayor, 6 women all throughout the country have registered to run in the municipality elections, also no more than 1 per cent.

Surprisingly enough, the participation rate for women running for the Municipality Councils is much higher, at 23 per cent.

Either way, a relatively higher female participation rate in one of three spheres of the elections upcoming doesn’t really change much.

Overall, the participation of women in decision making is weak, limited, and is all but unproportioned, nor representative of women in society.

More so, the sight grows dimmer looking out for the participation of women in the farther cities and towns.

Women are barely even present in the most major cities and governorates.

Take Amman for instance; no more than 16 women have participated in the capital, and it doesn’t get better for any of the other major districts, like Zarqaa and Irbid.

Among many things, these disappointing figures indicate a grander failure. The failure of the social and civil sector in regards to building awareness among women on the importance of participation.

It all leads to one main question: all their talk about the vitality of empowering women in the public sector, and this is the result? Where is the actual implementation of all the things civil society organisations have been talking about for so long?

Why, then, have they not do their part in the encouragement of female participation in these upcoming elections?

Failure is the right word.

In spite of legislation which guarantee seats in both local and municipal councils all over the Kingdom, failure is the outcome.

Words in bold and talk, that is all they were about!

Notably, women are guaranteed 25 per cent of the municipal councils’ seats, in the municipalities which do not follow local councils, proportionate to the vote count.

By law, even women who were not fortunate to win in competition, in the overall of the ballot count, get a chance to sit at these councils.

An easy landing, through and through, had there been candidates. But still, after all that is said and done, the results are the same.

Similarly, the quota for women at the municipality councils which fall under the local councils stands also at 25 per cent, also for the highest votes among women candidates in proportion.

In the absence of candidates, for both councils, the members are appointed by the Minister, according to the law.

The percentage reserved for women at the local councils stands at 20 per cent tops, according to the law, with at least one women in every council, aside for arrivals by votes.

In Amman, 50 candidates have run for mayor; all of them men.

In Karak, 21 women have registered for the governorate councils, in Ajloun, 13, 10 in Balqaa, and 89 have nominated for the municipality council in Amman.

In Mafraq surprisingly, 193 women registered for the municipality council elections, and in Karak, 114 women have, much more than in the Capital.

The point of this last bit is to confirm that legislation has nothing to do with the weak participation rate of women.

Women, whom have always criticised legislation for hurdling their participation, however, may have a lot to do with it!

More so, why would the women in the more remote governorates be more interested in participation that those in the major ones?

Today, those fending for women are required to explain these results and figures.

For everything that has come out of this proves that female empowerment was far more concentrated in the remote governorates.

As a result, women have failed to show for themselves here in the Capital, most of all, what an important component of society they really are!

This article is an edited translation of the Arabic version, published by AlGhad.