Jordan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (“CEDAW”) on July 1, 1992.
Upon ratification, Jordan made reservations to the following CEDAW articles: 9:2, 15:4 and 16 as described in detail below.
- Article 9, paragraph 2;
- Article 15, paragraph 4 (a wife’s residence is with her husband);
- Article 16, paragraph (1) (c), relating to the rights arising upon the dissolution of marriage with regard to maintenance and compensation;
- Article 16, paragraph (1) (d) and (g).
Summary of Official CEDAW Reports:
To date, Jordan has submitted official periodic reports to the CEDAW Committee (“Committee”) on three occasions. The first report came out five years following ratification in October 1997, the second report in November 1999, and the combined third and fourth report was released in December 2005.
In response to the most recent report, the Committee released comments in August 2007 regarding Jordan’s progress in implementing CEDAW as well as the areas of concerns. The Committee expressed appreciation to Jordan for its combined third and fourth periodic report, which was well-structured, though it lacked references to the Committee’s general recommendations. The Committee commended Jordan for its high-level delegation as well as its written replies to the issues raised by the pre-session working group. The Committee welcomed Jordan’s initiative to develop proposals to amend laws and institute measures to end discriminatory practices against women.
A detailed account of progress expressed by the Committee following Jordan’s report in 2005 as follows:
- Publishing the Convention in the Official Gazette, which gives it the force of law in Jordan.
- Establishment of a 20 percent quota for women in the municipal councils, which has led to the election of 240 women to municipal councils, and on the appointment of the first female head of a court.
- Achievement of parity between girls and boys in primary and secondary education.
A detailed account of recommendations made by the Committee following Jordan’s report in 2005 as follows:
- Take adequate steps to implement the recommendations in respect of some concerns raised in the Committee’s previous concluding comments, in particular In particular, its recommendations in paragraphs 169 (to encourage a constitutional amendment to incorporate equality on the basis of sex in article 6 of the Constitution), 171 (to undertake a review of all existing legislation to bring it fully into compliance with the Convention), 175 (to reconsider the law and policy on polygamy with a view to eliminating that practice), 181 (to initiate legislative action to permit safe abortion for victims of rape and incest) and 185 (to review legislation and policy in the employment sector to facilitate full implementation of article 11 of the Convention).
- Speedily withdraw its reservation to article 15, paragraph 4, which it acknowledges has become redundant in the light of legal reform. It also urges the State party to recognize the negative impact of its nationality law on Jordanian women married to foreigners and on the children of those women and, accordingly, to revise its nationality law and remove its reservation to article 9, paragraph.
- Revise its Personal Status Act, in the light of comparative jurisprudence where more progressive interpretations of Islamic law have been codified in legislative reforms, to give women equal rights in marriage, divorce and custody of children and to withdraw its reservations to article 16, paragraph 1 (c), (d) and (g).
- Enact a comprehensive gender equality law that extends to both the public and private sectors and to political, economic, social, cultural, civil and any other fields, and includes a definition of discrimination against women in line with article 1 of the Convention; provisions on the equal rights of women with men in line with article 2 (a) of the Convention; and sanctions and remedies for acts of discrimination based on sex.
- Ensure that the Convention becomes an integral part of legal education and, in this regard, develop awareness-raising programs and training on the provisions of the Convention for judges, lawyers and prosecutors, in particular with regard to the meaning and scope of direct and indirect discrimination and about formal and substantive equality, in order to establish firmly in the country a legal culture supportive of women’s equality and non-discrimination.
- Enhance women’s awareness of their rights through on-going legal literacy programs and legal assistance, and disseminate the Convention and its general recommendations widely among all stakeholders, including government ministries, parliamentarians, the judiciary, political parties, non-governmental organizations, the private sector and the general public.
- Complete expeditiously the process of strengthening and restructuring its national machinery so that it can fully execute all its functions, and to provide in its next report, a clear and detailed picture of the national machinery, including its authority, functions, powers and resources.
- Give high priority to its law reform process and to modify or repeal, without delay and within a clear time frame, discriminatory legislation, including discriminatory provisions in its Personal Status Act, Penal Code and Nationality Act and, to this end, increase its efforts to sensitize the Parliament and public opinion regarding the importance of accelerating legal reform which, according to article 2 of the Convention, has to be undertaken without delay.
- Take all steps necessary to increase support for law reform, including through proactive outreach to Parliament, and partnerships and collaboration with religious and community leaders, lawyers, judges, civil society organizations and women’s non-governmental organizations.
- View culture as a dynamic aspect of the country’s social fabric and life and therefore subject to change, and implement comprehensive measures to bring about change in the widely accepted stereotypical roles of men and women in order to create an enabling and supportive environment conducive to changing discriminatory laws, customs and practices and strengthening women’s ability to enjoy all their human rights. This should include awareness-raising and programs in the formal and non-formal educational sector, addressing women and men, girls and boys, community and religious leaders and, in particular, members of Parliament, with a view to eliminating stereotypes associated with traditional gender roles in the family and in society, in accordance with articles 2 (f) and 5 (a) of the Convention. It should closely monitor the impact of, and results achieved from, its efforts to promote change concerning the stereotypical expectations of women’s roles in the family and society.
- Give high priority to putting in place comprehensive measures to address all forms of violence against women and girls, recognizing that violence against women is a form of discrimination against women and thus constitutes a violation of their human rights under the Convention.
- Enact as soon as possible, legislation on violence against women, including the draft law on protection against domestic violence, in order to ensure that violence against women constitutes a criminal offence, that women and girls who are victims of violence have access to immediate means of redress and protection and that perpetrators are prosecuted and punished.
- Implement educational and awareness-raising measures aimed at law enforcement officials, the judiciary, health-care providers, social workers, community leaders and the general public, in order to ensure that they understand that all forms of violence against women are unacceptable, and make full use of the information contained in the Secretary-General’s in-depth study on all forms of violence against women.
- Amend, without delay, applicable provisions of the Penal Code to ensure that perpetrators of “honor” crimes do not benefit from a reduction of penalty under article 340; that perpetrators of premeditated “honor” crimes do not benefit from a reduction of penalty under article 98; and that article 99 is not applicable to “honor” crimes or other cases where the victim is related to the perpetrator, and ensure that “honor” crimes are treated as seriously as other violent crimes in regard to investigation and prosecution, and that effective prevention efforts are put in place.
- Ensure that a rapist does not escape punishment by marrying his victim, and eliminate the use of virginity tests or ensure that such tests are carried out only with the full and free consent of the woman and the results are not used to her detriment.
- Establish a sufficient number of accessible shelters and crisis centers for female victims of violence in both urban and rural areas, and ensure that if a victimized woman agrees to reconcile with the perpetrator, counseling services are provided to the perpetrator and the situation monitored to prevent further abuse.
- Replace the practice of protective custody with other measures that ensure the protection of women without jeopardizing their liberty, and to accordingly transfer all women currently held in protective custody to the Family Reconciliation Centre or other safe shelters.
- Take sustained measures, including temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendations 23 and 25, and to establish concrete goals and time frames in order to accelerate the increase in the representation of women in elected and appointed bodies in all areas and at all levels of public life.
- Consider amending the Elections Act before the parliamentary elections scheduled for November 2007 in order to institute a significantly higher quota for women, as recommended by the Jordanian National Commission for Women.
- Encourage political parties to use quotas or numerical goals in order to accelerate women’s equal representation, and conduct training programs on leadership and negotiation skills for current and future women leaders, and undertake awareness-raising, including for all members of Parliament, about the importance of women’s participation in decision-making for society as a whole.
- Strengthen its efforts to increase the number of women university professors in all fields, including through the use of temporary special measures in accordance with article 4, paragraph 1, of the Convention and the Committee’s general recommendation
- Enhance its human rights education in curricula at all educational levels and to ensure that such education places priority on the promotion of gender equality and women’s human rights.
- Amend its Labor Code to prohibit discrimination against women as well as sexual harassment in both public and private sector employment and include mechanisms for redress of complaints of discrimination and sexual harassment, and ensure that there is no discrimination in terms of employment-related benefits and that female employees receive all the same benefits on the same terms as male employees.
- Monitor adherence to the amended Labor Code by employers in both sectors to ensure compliance with such provisions, and take all measures necessary to eliminate discrimination against women in the private sector, in accordance with article 2 (e) of the Convention, and establish adequate and sufficient day-care centers in order to facilitate women’s entry into the labor force.
- Speed up the law reform effort to ensure that the employment of domestic workers, including migrants, is covered by the Labor Code, and monitor effectively and enforce regulations relating to the employment of domestic workers, including migrants, for their benefit.
- Eliminate the provision in article 5 of the Personal Status Act that allows marriage of a person under 18 years and to enforce the 18-years minimum age of marriage for both women and men, in line with article 16, paragraph 2, of the Convention, the Committee’s general recommendation 21 and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- Ensure that civil society organizations and women’s non-governmental organizations are not restricted with respect to their establishment and operations and that they are able to function independently of the Government, and provide an enabling environment for the establishment and active involvement of women’s and human rights organizations in promoting the implementation of the Convention.
- Include in its next report statistical data and analysis on the situation of women, disaggregated by sex, age and by rural and urban areas, indicating the impact of measures taken and the results achieved in the practical realization of women’s substantive equality.
- Ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women.
- Ensure the wide participation of all ministries and public bodies in, and to consult with non-governmental organizations during, the preparation of its next report, and involve Parliament in a discussion of the report before its submission to the Committee.
- Utilize fully in its implementation of the obligations under the Convention, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action, which reinforce the provisions of the Convention, and include information thereon in its next periodic report.
- Integrate a gender perspective and the explicit reflection of the provisions of the Convention in all efforts aimed at the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, and include information thereon in its next periodic report.
- Disseminate widely in Jordan the present concluding comments in order to make the people of Jordan, including government officials, politicians, parliamentarians, the judiciary and women’s and human rights organizations, aware of the steps that have been taken to ensure de jure and de facto equality of women, as well as the further steps that are required in that regard.
- Continue to disseminate widely, in particular to women’s and human rights organizations, the Convention, the Optional Protocol thereto, the Committee’s general recommendations, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and the outcome of the twenty-third special session of the General Assembly, entitled “Women 2000: gender equality, development and peace for the twenty-first century”.
- Respond to the concerns expressed in the present concluding comments in its next periodic report under article 18 of the Convention, which is due in July 2009.
Summary of Shadow Reports:
To date, two shadow reports have been submitted regarding the progress of the implementation of CEDAW in Jordan. The first ever shadow report was submitted in July 2007 by a delegation of NGOs organized by the Karama Group of Jordan, including the Arab Women Organization of Jordan, the Arab Human Rights Organization, and the Arab Women Media centre. This shadow report detailed the government’s areas of non-compliance and recommends policies to improve Jordan’s protection of women’s legal rights and safety from violence. Violence against women remains one of the biggest challenges that the government faces today.
The shadow report noted that although the government published CEDAW in the National Gazette, it was not done until 15 years after the ratification. In order to bring national law in line with putting CEDAW into practice, Karama recommended that the government do the following:
- First, lift all remaining reservations to the CEDAW articles, and ensure women’s equality under the law to be able to pass her nationality to her spouse and children, as men are currently entitled to do.
- Second, adopt a National Strategy to end violence against women, enacting new laws in the Penal Code that criminalize VAW and punish perpetrators not women. Specifically, stop the jailing of women for their “protection” when their lives have been threatened by family members, and secure these women a place at the national shelter-which should expand to multiple shelters.
- Third, enact and develop enforcement of legislation to prohibit sexual assault in the workplace and gender-based discrimination at all levels of employment and benefits. Extend the labor law’s protection and benefits to include informal sectors where women are vulnerable to exploitation and abuse: as domestic workers; gardeners; cooks; or as family members in a family business who work without receiving pay.
- Fourth, amend Article 6 Paragraph 1 of the Constitution, which indicates that all Jordanians are equal before the law and there is no discrimination between them, to specify equality according to “sex” alongside “language,” “religion,” and “race.”
- Fifth, Government should amend the Jordanian Personal Status Law to remove articles that do not ensure women’s equal rights with men within marriage.
- Sixth, the Government has yet to ensure equality in political participation. A quota of just six women out of 110 was filled in the previous election of the parliament. The government needs to undertake new policies and measures to ensure better participation of women in political and public life. A quota of at least 30% should be adopted at all decision making levels.
The Government’s response to the shadow report was positive, assuring to the CEDAW committee that it is in the process of developing new laws, including a law that criminalizes domestic violence and a law that ensure non-discrimination against women at all levels. At the time, it was predicted that it will take two years to finalize these laws.
A parallel shadow report prepared by the Human Forum for Women’s Rights and the MIZAN-Law Group for Human Rights was submitted in July 2007.
Under the personal status laws in Jordan, women suffer from discrimination in many areas, particularly in regards to testimony, divorce, freedom of movement, inheritance. Although women have the right to vote and consistently have a high turnout at elections, women remain largely excluded from the government itself. There is currently one female minister, three female senators and six female members of parliament. The current age of marriage for both men and women is 18, and Jordanian women married to non-Jordanian men do have the right to pass on Jordanian citizenship to their children.
Between 2001 and 2003, while the Parliament was not in session, the government amended two bills relating to women’s rights: the first allowed women the right to file for divorce and the second afforded the courts more leeway to impose harsh punishments on those convicted of honor crimes.
The government recently created the National Committee for Women to oversee programs related to women’s development. This Committee has been successful in lowering the female illiteracy rate and encouraging women to pursue university-level education. Although population growth has declined, the total fertility rate is higher than the regional average. There has been public support among religious leaders and communities to reduce family size, and contraceptive use has increased substantially over the past decade.
In addition, there are many advocates of women’s rights in the government, most notably Queen Rania and Princess Basma. Each has supported women’s development through projects and social reform. Since King Abdullah took power in 1999, the government has shown a significant interest in improving the overall status of women in Jordan.
On February 10, 2009, Jordan lifted its reservation on Article 15, paragraph 4, of the Convention, which relates to women’s mobility.
On February 15, 2009, the United Press reported on the progress of eliminating family violence after the government passed the Protection Against Family Violence law in 2008. Although the National Family Council prepared a four-year strategic plan, there are still approximately 5,000 cases registered each year. The National Council for Women’s Affairs in Jordan announced that it is preparing to hold a conference that aims to develop an “Arab Network for Family Protection”, which would adopt a mechanism for cooperation among stakeholders, setting policies and preparing international reports.
A recent project, which will be coordinated by the Italian Consortium of Solidarity along with the European Institute of Democracy and Human Rights and MIZAN-Law Group for Human Rights, will work to promote the effective application of CEDAW. This program will provide training courses for judges and lawyers, promote direct information campaigns to target women, and offer mobile units that will travel to encourage victims of domestic violence to report their situation. Honor crimes prove the greatest challenge, because the perpetrator often walks away with a modest sentence, and judges grant extenuating circumstances to men who are believed to have been motivated by honor, despite the fact they are guilty of homicide. For this reason, the new program will provide necessary training for judges and prosecutors in the legal principals upheld by the Convention. But the main focus of the project will be the lawyers, who have the most contact with society and are best able to spread a new culture of rights.
On March 10, 2009, Al-Sharq reported that the Jordanian Minister of Justice expected that female judges will constitute 40% of judges in Jordan in the next decade. Women currently make up 50% of the participants in the programs “Judges of the Future” and “Diploma in Judicial Studies”. It was noted that the Ministry of Justice is currently writing a new law, which would enhance the independence of the public prosecutor’s office and engage female judges in public prosecution. These efforts are a part of the capacity building programs for females in the legal profession, which the Ministry of Justice supports.
In May 2009, Jordan will host the second regional conference of the Coalition “Equality without Reservation”.
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