National Situation Analysis Report: Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality

 Full Report - PDF File  النسخة العربية

Executive Summary

·   The political authority is the chief contributor to the advancement of women in Jordan. Specifically the Protection from Domestic Violence Law, special wards in the courts for family issues, and access to education have been the key vehicles for female empowerment

·   Further improvement in the status of women will require changing the traditional cultural and religious interpretations, addressing inequality in personal status matters, eliminating honor crimes, and increasing female labor force participation

Key Findings

Gender Statistics

·   Female illiteracy in Jordan is very low: only 4% of women are illiterate, compared to 11% of men

·   The employment rate rises with educational level for women: only 13% of women in the labor force have less than a secondary education and 52% have a bachelor’s or higher. Despite high levels of education, the female labor force participation rate is 8.8%. Women face a high unemployment rate of 25% due to various problems in accessing the labor market

·   Women are increasing their presence in the legal system: in 2006, approximately 20% of all lawyers and 6% of judges were female

·   Women who are or have been married have the lowest rate of labor force participation of 11.8%, while the rate for women who are unmarried or never married stands at 20.5%

·   Approximately 50% of employed women work in the public sector, as government work offers better job security, shorter working hours, and is more flexible to family constraints

·   Only 4% of employees in the highest level of civil service are women, indicating that women compose the lower positions of the civil service

·   70% of all government-sponsored microfinance loans have gone to female entrepreneurs

·   Around 14% of all marriages conducted in 2008 involved a girl between the age of 15 and 18

Personal Status Matters

·   The Law of Personal Status (1976) is the foundational law that addresses women’s rights. In 2010, the Chief Islamic Justice Department has proposed a draft personal status law, which women activists do not believe goes far enough to empower women

·   In 2008 the first woman successfully filed for divorce under the Khuloe law, which allows a women to file for divorce without providing any justification. The 2010 draft law eliminates the Khuloe law

·   Advantageous changes to the draft personal status law include:

o   Imposing a three month waiting period before a woman can waive her inheritance rights to decrease the frequency of women unknowingly signing away their rights

o   Raising the age of child custody for divorced women to 15

o   Establishing an alimony fund for divorced women

o   Setting the suitable age for marriage at 18, unless there is an interest to marry a girl who is at least 15 years old

o   Guaranteeing the right to dowry

o   Acknowledging a woman’s right to work

·   Personal status matters for Christians are heard in Ecclesiastic Tribunals, though Islamic Law is applied to Christians in inheritance matters

·   In the event of divorce, the mother normally has custody of the child, unless she converts from Islam or the father can show that she does not meet the necessary criteria. The personal status law guarantees the non-custodial parent contact at least once a week

Women’s Status in the Public and Political Spheres

·   Female participation in politics is low, though it is encouraged by quotas in parliament and municipal councils. In 2007 women made up 14% of the Senate, 6% of the House of Representatives, and held 4 out of the 28 ministerial positions

·   Nationality is governed by the Jordan Nationality Act (1987), and it stipulates that the children of Jordanian men receive Jordanian citizenship, and that a foreign woman may gain Jordanian citizenship if she marries a Jordanian man

·   Jordanian women have been able to vote and stand for parliamentary elections since 1974 and municipal elections since 1982. In 2003, the parliament passed a quota reserving 6 seats for the female candidates who achieve the highest percentage of votes cast in their respective constituencies throughout the country, apart from women who may win elections outright. A 2007 study indicated that women’s failure to reach parliament is due to a lack of trust in Jordanian society that women are capable of working in politics

·   A May 2010 change to the election law will give women 12 seats, though activists say the new system favors “inexperienced” women from smaller districts, while excluding experienced women from larger constituencies

·   While Law No. 30 (2007) recognizes equal opportunities for work, no provisions specifically prohibit gender discrimination or require equal payment for men and women performing the same function. These principles are only mentioned in Civil Service Ordinance No. 55, which mention these items as “values” of the civil service

·   According to the law, women are protected from termination and given maternity leave in accordance with international labor standards. In practice though, these protections are violated

·   Since the summer of 2008, migrant and domestic workers have been granted the same labor protections that are extended to Jordanians

Gender-based Violence and Discrimination

·   While articles 98 and 340 of the Jordanian Criminal Code sanction honor killings, they provide a reduced sentence, exempt or no punishment from sentence to a male relative who kills a female relative caught committing an illicit crime (according to Article 340 of the Criminal Code: "a husband or a close blood relative who kills a woman caught in a situation highly suspicious of adultery will be totally exempt from sentence." Article 98, meanwhile, guarantees a lighter sentence for male killers of female relatives who have committed an "act which is illicit in the eyes of the perpetrator," page 22). It is estimated that 20-25 women are killed annually in honor killings

·   In 2009, the government endorsed an Anti-Human Trafficking Law, which prohibits all forms of human trafficking in the country. Jordan has also worked with the Filipino government to give a wide range of legal protections to domestic workers

Previous Efforts to Advance Women’s Rights

·   In 1992, the Jordan National Convention for Women (JNCW) was created to lobby for reform in legislation, economics, and societal life

·   Jordan ratified the Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1992. However, the government has held reservations about certain provisions that deal with equal rights at home and in the private sphere. Jordan has also ratified other agreements such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

·   The Government released the National Strategy for Jordanian Women (2006-2010), which focused on gender mainstreaming in the formulation of public policy, and it aimed at addressing societal attitudes of women. Other initiatives include the National Strategy for the Jordanian Family, the revision of the educational curricula to combat stereotypes of women, and the promotion of gender-responsive government budgets

Recommended Actions and Initiatives

Government Initiatives

·   Strengthen women’s rights with regard to citizenship laws and participation in political life

·   Harmonize national legislation with the international agreements Jordan has signed to protect and empower women

·   Review the reservations Jordan has expressed to these agreements, especially the CEDAW

·   Combat violence against women by adopting legal procedures and providing adequate services

·   Adopt and implement measures to support the economic empowerment of women. Create an equal workplace for those women that choose to work by requiring equal opportunities and full employment rights

·   Adopt gender sensitive budgeting and gender mainstreaming

·   Activate the role of the judiciary in implementing international conventions at the national level by training judicial personnel on these agreements

Social Initiatives

·   Work with the media to sensitize decision makers and the general public on human rights and women’s rights issues

·   Conduct family guidance and awareness-raising activities on personal status laws

·   Work to eliminate gender stereotypes and promote the importance of revising social, cultural, and religious norms about women


Report Name



National Situation Analysis Report: Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equality




Supporting Donor


European Neighborhood Partnership Instrument (ENPI)


Lead Ministry

Social Policy

Not Available

Key Topics

Age for Marriage – Citizenship Laws – Convention on Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) – Divorce – Election Quotas – Female Education – Female Labor Force Participation – Gender-based Violence – Gender Statistics – Honor Killing – Khuloe Law – Nationality Act – Personal Status Law– Women’s Rights


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