HM Queen Rania’s latest YouTube video attempts to showcase the evolution of women, specifically in Jordan. It presents a series of jobs and/or roles that women have taken on in the Kingdom.
I agree that we’ve come along way, and that’s an accomplishment that deserves to be highlighted because there are many women who have broken many barriers, many of which didn’t make the cut in this movie.
However, I also agree that we have a long way to go.
It should be noted that most of the women shown in this video represent an incredibly small minority and anyone who thinks otherwise isn’t paying enough attention. Moreover, there are some jobs showcased in the video, such as that of a Minister, that are based on political appointments and not the meritocratic system we want to see championed. In other words, they reflect the willingness of the monarch to integrate more women in to the system, because otherwise, if it was left up to the people, it would take decades for a woman to become a Minister in Jordan (if municipal and parliamentary elections of the past 20 years are any indication).
Which brings me to my next point. Many of these fields are represented by women who come from a certain strata of society. So no, it’s not a matter of choice. There are harsh imposing realities that dominate the lives of the overwhelming majority of women in this country. Realities that see them married off post-university (if at that), and skipping careerhood. And I use the word “imposed” here because it stands in glaring contrast to the message of “choice”. I know many (some of which are even related to me) who would’ve loved that choice but realities determine otherwise. Becoming a pilot or an architect is not an option for most women in this country, and you have to come from quite the open-minded, (relatively) well off family in order to pursue such a life. In other words, there is a dominant culture and society that determines much of a woman’s (and man’s) life, regardless of the existance of a constitutional and legal framework that grants them equal footing (to a large extent).
It should also be noted that the women presented in this video are not representative of all or even most Arab women; they are hardly representative of most Jordanian women. In other words, to put this in a context for the non-Arab audience, conservative Jordan is much more liberal than other Arab nations (and that’s saying something).
But this is just my opinion and it is based on an ordinary citizen’s observations, so take it for what it’s worth.