Do We As Jordanians Decide Our Own Fate?

Madas wrote an interesting post on why Jordanian women are less empowered than women in the Meghrab region (morocco, tunisia, etc) and after linking to it, an interesting comment I got from one of my twitter readers was the following:

@tarawnah myb coz not only women, but most of our ppulation z dsngaged from deciding their fate. No activism, no organizing, no power, no rights.

The comment resonated well within the confines of my mind as I began to wonder the extent to which we, as Jordanians, have any say in our own fates. Governments, members of parliament, policymakers, associations, unions, non-governmental organizations, embassies, foreign governments…these are all people or institutions that control a great deal of our fates as citizens.

Even NGOs and civic society tends to be based on the concept that a select group of people know what’s best for the rest of society, and in the process of trying to “help” a community, the community is often left out of the entire process.

But then I wonder, to what extent do the rights of other societies, even those Meghreb societies, based on activism or mobilization or organization or self-empowerment? To what extent were these rights institutionalized by foreign forces?

In any case, the main questions I’ve been grappling with (and I invite you to join me in that chaotic journey) is whether real and institutionalized empowerment requires self-empowerment first.

More importantly, how does such a concept work if the majority of the people don’t want these changes to take place in the first place?

Is our social statement of silence a sign of our acceptance of the status quo, and if that be the case, are we not acknowledging, accepting and thus deciding our own fate?

Just a thought or two.


  • u know if it was a westerner who said that then they might have a point .. but coming from a fellow arab .. well that’s just the pot calling the kettle black

  • Lets put it this way, democracy is not about choosing what you want, it’s about objecting t what you don’t want … so if no one is objecting then they agree with it (engineer associations aside :P)

  • Well some Jordanian women need to read Chomsky: “If you assume that there’s no hope, you guarantee that there will be no hope. If you assume that there is an instinct for freedom, that there are opportunities to change things, that hope is possible, then hope may be justified, and a better world may be built. That’s your choice.”

  • But then I wonder, to what extent do the rights of other societies, even those Meghreb societies, based on activism or mobilization or organization or self-empowerment? To what extent were these rights institutionalized by foreign forces?

    I wonder to what extent these differences might be remnants of pre-Islamic Maghrebi culture. It could be the case that Maghrebi women, particularly Berbers, have long been more independent than their counterparts in Arabia and the Levant.

    I recall a Muslim woman on an internet video illustrating different regional styles women in the Arab world employ to veil themselves and was surprised to learn that women in one North African country (Tunisia?) actually wrapped a piece of cloth over their heads leaving the neckline exposed. The style looked similar to wearing a bandanna over one’s head except that the cloth used was much thicker. I should note that these were traditional styles, and both the secularization and Arabization of North Africa may be changing these customs.

    I also seem to remember reading that Berber women have traditionally required more freedom of movement than other women in the Arab world due to their heavy involvement in farm work.

  • hmmm.. I would be curious about what you are proposing here (empowerment) and the current phenomenon of power display all over the country –in case anyone missed it, I’m referring to the daily reports of fights at hospitals, universities, neighborhoods, …literally everywhere. Could it be that people aren’t able to be empowered otherwise?

  • Balla jad?

    “But then I wonder, to what extent do the rights of other societies, even those Meghreb societies, based on activism or mobilization or organization or self-empowerment? To what extent were these rights institutionalized by foreign forces?”

    That’s the answer to your question. We’re just as guided by foreign forces as they are. In fact, we’re even worse, cause we still refuse to admit it.

  • Come on Nas,, you know and i know we are still colonized even more than ever, and major political economical and even social policies are directly decided by the west but implemented by local leaders ..


  • Don’t you think that Jordanian and other women are also caught within the web of their family unit and what that family accepts as the norm? Perhaps a woman has ideas of expanding her life, but within the current constraints of her mahrams, be it father, brothers, uncles, etc., she has no possibility of putting those ideas in motion. If she did, she might be killed, as we are seeing here so often. I think the independence of our women is directly proportional to the constraints of our men–the open-mindedness of those men, religiousity, and education.

  • “….real and institutionalized empowerment requires self-empowerment first…. ”

    Are we empowered? I guess the short answer must be “no”. We have no way of changing government policy, no say in how taxes are spent and have no way of voicing our objections. Some might say Jordanian elect the Parliament, but what good is that if we are talking about a toothless rubber stamping body. How can you even express your objections given that the media is controlled and demonstrations are all but illegal. Self empowerment is therefore illegal.

  • More importantly, how does such a concept work if the majority of the people don’t want these changes to take place in the first place?

    Timing is everything. Martin Luther King Jr. would have gotten nowhere in the South of the 1920s. By the 1960s, the South had liberalized enough that opponents of segregation could put up a fight. Certain things had changed in society in that interval. One was the desegregation of institutions like the military. I think the important thing is to take advantage of as many opportunities as possible for institutional change, however limited they might seem. The presence of women in more institutions in Jordan will result in men feeling more at ease with empowered women generally.

  • its well known jordanians after the gulf countries are least political populations…look at lebanon, look at egypt and ‘kifaya’ movement and bloggers, look at rabee3 dimashq in syria before it was shut, look at iraq and its multitude of parties and coalitions, iran ofcours u can see young people dying for freedom etc…in jordan nothing people cannot be bothered coz the 60% palestinian origin or so are wiped out of political map (4 or 5 ministers tops, 15 out of 110 pariament members, low proportional representation for zarka vs south etc.), and some of them are either too scared , too poor (mokhayamat), or too affulent (Amman) to give a damn….the other 40% are racing each other who is best in blind loyalty and pretending the country is run like utopia, or focused on individual interests (my cousin is minister, his dad is parliment, uncle in army, nephew in police etc.)…and the few who dare speak like M3aaan in 89 got the iron fist treatment…so ya MOST jordanians i can say dont give a shit and just think from salary to salary, how to secure a job in dubai to flee, and where he will get his cigarettes from…i bet u a single person in the street can name 5 political parties in jordan, or 15 members of parliament, u wont find any :-)) and i told u many times to give it up naseem, coz nothing will ever change (nothing did since i last told u), but u dont listen allah yhdeek haha

    by the way, why no post on recent faisaly – wehdat incident and the big outcry after it?

  • forgot to mention Kuwait, where a islamist member of parliment can interrogate a minister who is also a prince and member of royal family! whilst we cannot even expel a 18yr old kid who takes a gun to jordan univeristy and fires in the air in a brawl coz he is from a powerful tribe…

  • ofcourse we decide our fate. Laish 3aysheen aslan,
    The problem is very simple., as long as one man in one institution will get to make the final decision regarding public issues.. And all those who work underneath him want to please. And no one can say no to his superiors… All is crap.

  • Please add………….ignorance of Deen and its relevance to Life as a reason. Jordanian women as a whole appear to be running after American goods and little else!

  • the answer is simpler than we think. we are still tribal Bedouin people. despite the nice cars, villas we live in, and no matter how modern Jordan looks and pretends we still tribal and the old Arabic hierarchical order still rules. in government, schools, homes, etc. all Arab countries still suffer from the same problem but on different levels. in the tribe, the sheik owns everything and everyone. he knows whats best for everyone. the same in a family. in the tribe, women and sheep shepards are the bottom of the social order.

  • Of course we decide our own fate. Even if we’re not acting up, that’s also deciding our own fate. The corruption, irresposnibiliy and lack of freedoms that politicians in Jordan practise and preech for is something most Jordanian families agree upon in their homes.

  • We are from the very beginning told what is right and what is wrong, we´re not let to learn from our own experiences, thats why we assume that other people know better. Maybe an answer to your question is that each individual should start realizing that we are truely international citizens, we shouldn´t really conform to a specific ideology but that of our own.

    Its just sad, and I would say NO, Jordanians aren´t truely independent, we always think that there is someone who knows better and thats the first trap we fall into, we are conditioned to be followers not leaders.

  • Yes we do decide our own fate…we are the same exact way we want to be…we like it that way cause anything else would require us to actually work and think.

    an example: after their long “fight” for their rights and equality Jordanian women are in the work force, but how many actually want careers? how many young college graduate women do you know who cant hold a job or only do until they find a husband? how many are burdens on their fathers and husbands? some get married and work and are still a burden cause their paycheck is all theirs to spend on shopping and the man is responsible for everything. the majority of income producing women contribute more to wasteful consumption and less to their household income.

    More importantly how many actually and perpetually see value in the work that they do and the lives that they live? that goes for both men and women. but with women its worse cause they are not even fulfilling their traditional roles like they should, even if you are doing dishes and ongoring kossa find value in that. the rich rely on maids to keep a home and raise the kids, the poor who have to juggle work and a home throw their kids in the streets most of the day or in front of useless brain draining TV shows. who is raising the next generation ?

    we are a society that lives temshayet 7aal leading careless useless meaningless lives. a few shots of vodka at Nai or rass 7asheesh bil ghandour or even bakait viceroy will resolve life’s biggest predicaments and give the answer to the meaning of life.

  • interesting post 🙂
    I believe we don’t control our fate, casue if we do we will be living in a very different situation.
    if you came from an average (poor) family u wont control ur fate from day one 🙂
    u cant study what u like u cant work what u want u cant play where u want, freedom is only a word we hear on TVs.
    and about Jordanian women are empowered this is a bullshit, Jordanian women are smart and strong but that does not apply on all of them, even women in Maghreb, not all of them are strong and smart!
    I met a lot of Maghreb girls from Tunisia and many different countries, and no way they are smarter than our girls.
    every country has its own share from strong to stupid people.

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