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Nour Suheir and Mala Midan are attending Haja Rafikas classes for younger kids. The centre offers services to people of all ages. Photo: Maurits Otterloo / IM.

The future for girls in Jordan

Published 29 May 2017

On the picture we can see two girls, Nour and Mala from the Haja Rafika center. What will the future be like when these girls grow up – will there be a change for persons with disabilities and women in general?

Nancy Momani, Country Director, och Salam Shebli, Program Officer, gave their view on Jordan society today and in, let´s say, ten years from now in the regard of women with disabilities.

- Women in Jordan, particularly women in poor areas and who live in camps, have less resources than men and less decision-making power in and outside their homes, because of the patriarchal norms and structures which allow men to hold and exercise power which limit women’s movement and make their participation in the socio-economic political life lower. Nour and Mala will face more challenges when they grow up because they are girls with disabilities, living in a Palestinian refugee camp in the capital Amman, which lacks services and consists of a conservative community.

Things go forward in Jordan but progress is more obvious and visible in the capital Amman. We have an urbanization process in Jordan but still it is difficult as a young woman to leave your family and move to a bigger city far away. The family may not let you go at all, or at least have frequent contact with you.

- I know friends who work or study in Amman but still are expected to visit their families in other parts of the country every weekend, says Salam, which leaves less time for engaging in political and rights-based activities.

Haja Rafika Center, IMs partner organization, has a great influence on these girls. It is a well-respected part of the society, and it advocates for the rights of persons with disabilities inside the highly populated Palestinian Refugee Camp. Attitudes among people may change until the girls have grown up, even if we today met more conservative ideas.

Will companies, universities and other institutions let people with disabilities in?

On the other hand, another partner organization of IM, Sana for Special Individuals, has a very promising “Work Program” which introduces young persons with disabilities to the labor market. The good examples from this important work will surely have a huge effect on society. When more companies will have good experiences of hiring persons with disabilities, the word will spread. It already does. It has been stated by Managers of hotels and Restaurants that People with Intellectual disabilities who work for them are keener on doing their jobs in the right way and on time.

- The future of girls still depends on the parents. Like Luma, an activist from Sana for Special Individuals, said in an interview “people around will treat the children like the parents do. If a mother yells at her child, the teacher will probably also yell at the child. If a mother or a father is open about what they believe in a future for their child, the environment will also have a more positive approach.”

Families do not necessarily have to be very rich, but they have to be engaged and do their utmost to support their children. If the family does not support their children, the rest of society is not going to help. That is the reality here in Jordan.

Nancy Momani, Country Director, och Salam Shebli, Program Officer, gave their view on Jordan society today and in, let´s say, ten years from now in the regard of women with disabilities. Photo: Linus Edlund / IM.