The Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) is a local non-governmental membership organization dedicated to abolishing all forms of gender discrimination, and to promoting human rights. With thirteen branches in communities across Jordan, membership exceeds ten thousand individuals and includes representation from all parts of Jordanian society. Through national and regional advocacy campaigns, research, and rights-based programming, the JWU targets women and their children, specializing in women victims of violence/survivors of sexual and gender-based violence.
The Union is a regional leader in advocacy and rights-based programming, and has significantly impacted the lives of women in Jordan and their children. Examples include JWU lobbying leading to reform of marriage laws- increasing the minimum marriage age from 14 to 18 years; and the JWU Women’s Shelter- the first shelter for abused and vulnerable women in the Arab world.
JWU activities work to achieve equal rights and responsibilities by:
1. Changing discriminatory policies
o fostering a democratic atmosphere
o establishing a civil society
2. Addressing women’s issues
o amending laws
o raising awareness
o service provision: protection, vocational training, education, psychosocial and legal counselling
Activities are supported by 3 sources of revenue: membership fees; income generating community development projects; and support from embassies, international institutions and NGOs (please see “Partners and Affiliations” for more information).
1945 The Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) is established
1957 Emergency law dissolved all civil society organizations and political parties and the JWU was forced to stop its activities
1974 The Union was re-established under the name of “The Women’s Union in Jordan” (WUJ) and was the only body representing women in Jordan between 1974 and 1981
1981 The Minister of Interior gave instructions to dissolve the Union. The Union’s Management Committee appealed the Minister of Interior’s directive and won. The WUJ continued its activities in spite of the continuous pressures from the government, but was finally forced to discontinue for some time because of intimidation of its members by the security forces
1990 Jordan’s parliament is restored and the Union regains momentum. The Union’s name was changed to the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) and new democratic bylaws were passed and approved
1993 The Union begins delivering legal literacy courses to vulnerable women across Jordan
1995 Legal counseling services are established; however it is acknowledged that women require additional support in realizing their rights
1996 A comprehensive program to deliver psychosocial support in conjunction with legal counseling is established through the JWU “Hotline”
1999 The JWU begins operating the first shelter for abused and/or vulnerable women in the Arab world
2007 From the late nineties to-date, JWU continues to respond to the needs of women in Jordan: the number of locations and scope of activities expand; in 2007 alone the A Bisharat Center for Human Rights is opened; and programming targeting Iraqi refugees begins
o The efforts of Jordanian women to defend their rights and their earnings are organized and unified.
o Any form of discrimination against women is addressed
o The status of Jordanian women- their role in society, and their ability to practice their rights as citizens, workers, wives and mothers- is confirmed and reinforced.
o Jordanian women’s awareness of their rights and their public participation is raised.
o Jordanian women are active in the development of their community and seek to improve their social status, enabling them to apply their creativity and productivity.
o Jordanian women are engaged in local community development.
o Legal, economic, social, cultural and other constrains that prevents women rights form fully functioning as declared in international declarations and agreements are reduced (e.g. CEDAW, Jordanian Constitution and Jordanian National Convention).
o Jordanian women are active participants in strengthening the independence of Jordan and in applying a democratic approach to protect national sovereignty and culture.
o Women have access to health care in general; and awareness raising information and health services specifically in the areas of sexual and reproductive health, maternal and child care, family planning.
o Women benefit from and contribute to building civil society, and to protecting and promoting human rights, especially those of women and children.
o Women have the skills, knowledge, experience, abilities and access to necessary services enabling them to contribute to the improvement and protection of the natural environment and population.
o Women improve their standard of living and defend the interests and rights of their families, to ensure prosperity and stability of its members, particularly children.
o Alphabetic, legal, cultural and political literacy among Jordanian women is increased.
o Palestinian women are supported in defending their legitimate national rights.
o Arab women are supported and cooperated with to achieve common goals.
o Solidarity with the international women’s rights movement is practiced.