Paying ‘lip service’ to gender equality: The hollow implementation of gender mainstreaming in Jordan
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Rosalind Ragetlie, Dina Najjar, Bipasha Baruah. (1/11/2021). Paying ‘lip service’ to gender equality: The hollow implementation of gender mainstreaming in Jordan. Civil Society Review, November (5).
Gender equality became a focal point in Jordanian civil society organizations (CSOs) after the establishment of the Jordanian National Commission for Women in 1992. Gender equality issues have enjoyed growing attention globally within CSOs since the 1990s, especially after the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995. In this chapter, we complement findings from a literature review of gender and development programming in CSOs in the MENA region with data collected from 23 interviews with a diverse sample of international, state-led, royal, and non-royal affiliated CSOs in Jordan. Our findings suggest that gender equality is used more often as rhetoric (to attract funding, for example) than as implementable policy or practice by Jordanian CSOs. Few CSOs take a holistic gender-responsive approach, and interventions aimed at reducing gender inequality are often fragmented and ad hoc in nature. Microcredit and other income-based approaches remain the most prevalent tools for development in Jordan. And these are implemented without much reflection about their limitations in creating direct benefits for women or empowering them socially and politically. Therefore, we emphasize that Jordanian CSOs have a limited and shallow implementation of gender equality programs and pursue somewhat outdated approaches to gender and development. This includes a reliance on anti-poverty and efficiency-based approaches that aim to integrate women into existing social and economic hierarchies and structures, instead of attempting to challenge or subvert them. Furthermore, many CSOs continue to take a ‘gender equals women’ approach in their initiatives, rather than considering gender as a relational social construct that influences the lives of all human beings. Finally, the blurred line in Jordan between domestic CSOs (with or without the support of international organizations), the monarchy, and the defensive democratization pursued by the state also undermine the potential for CSOs to engage with the social and political roots of gender inequality.
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