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Jordanian Women’s Union demonstration to change article 308, in Jordan. Photo: JWU

Conference Salutes Women's Rights Advances

Published 30 November 2017

This year women’s rights took a leap forward in the Middle East and North Africa. Legislative reform brought on by pressure from women’s groups from across the region. To celebrate this, share experiences and discuss the future of gender equality in the region IM, Diakonia and NPA offers a safe inter-generational space for women’s activists during a conference on December 5th and 6th in Beirut.

In July Tunisia’s parliament approved a comprehensive new legislation targeting violence against women. Following Tunisia’s footsteps, in August the Jordanian parliament voted to abolish the controversial 308 article, a provision in the penal code that allows rapists to escape punishment by marring their victims. A couple of weeks after, the Lebanese parliament amended the contentious 1940s law, known as Article 522, which allows rapists to marry their victims to avoid imprisonment.

“We Stand Tall When We Stand Together”
The motto of the conference is “We Stand Tall When We Stand Together”. A reminder of the joint effort that enabled the progress the past year. Through our partnerships in Jordan, Palestine and Lebanon, IM Swedish Development Partner will continue to support different Civil Society Organizations that demand gender equality in the Arab world and worldwide.

“The collaboration of different INGOs with Civil Society Organizations and experts is a great initiative coming at a crucial time, where violence in new forms has been rapidly accelerating.  I believe that this conference will offer us the platform needed to formulate creative mechanisms to combat violence, especially through partnerships and joint efforts,” states Amneh Al Zoubi, Jordanian Women’s Union’s President, Chief Security Officer in Jordan.

The Jordanian Women’s Union; a Jordanian member-based NGO active in Jordan since 1945, has been very active over the past years in organizing and leading demonstrations, calling on the Jordanian Government and Parliament to abolish Article 308 from the Jordan Penal Code. Through Jordanian Women’s Union’s cooperation in the last year with IM Swedish Development Partner, the partners were able to raise awareness on the rights of women, increase access to legal and social support services for vulnerable women and children through centers in the cities of Madaba and Deirallah and the 24/7 available hotline.

Swedish and Canadian Feminist Foreign Policies
His Excellency, Mr. Erik Ullenhag; Ambassador of Sweden to Jordan since 2016 and former Minister of Integration in Sweden and Her Excellency Mrs Emmanuelle Lamoureux Ambassador of Canada to Lebanon; will elaborate during the conference on the role of the Swedish and Canadian Feminist Foreign Policies, and its impact on the MENA region.  In addition, Fredrik Westerholm, First Secretary of the Development Cooperation Embassy of Sweden Beirut & Damascus, a fundamental contributor and supporter of this event, will be present.

This regional conference will take place on December 5th and 6th, at the Lebanese American University in Beirut, Lebanon and is hosted by the Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World.