Women activists unenthusiastic about amendment to Article 6

On Monday, January 3, 2022, the Lower House approved a constitutional amendment to Chapter 2. (File photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — Women activists on Monday had a lukewarm reaction to the Lower House’s approval of a constitutional provision which was amended to read: “The rights and duties of Jordanian men and women,” instead of “The rights and duties of Jordanians.”اضافة اعلان

The amendment was suggested by a Royal Committee formed by His Majesty King Abdullah, which comprised figures representing the political, social, and intellectual spectra, with a guarantee from the King to push the changes without any interference into the constitutional channels of enactment. The government referred the constitutional changes as are to the House, which referred them to its Legal Committee before they debate them under the dome starting this week.

Although the change to the title of Chapter Two was seen by many as “cosmetic and empty”, the House discussion of the provision was heated to the point that it drew international attention. On Sunday, parliamentarians voted in favor of the amendment by an overwhelming majority of 94-26.
In response, women rights advocate and lawyer Hala Ahed said that the addition of the word “women” to the said chapter adds no value or genuine change to the status of women.

“On the contrary,” she told Jordan News, “it proves that there is insistence on beating around the bush and paying lip service without ensuring actual improvement to the status of women and their right to full equality with men.”

According to Ahed, the amendment is only a “red herring” aimed to deceive international organizations that call for a genuine change to Article 6, which stipulates that “Jordanians shall be equal before the law. There shall be no discrimination between them as regards to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion.” The article stops short of mentioning “gender”.

According to women rights advocates, the absence of the gender aspect when it comes to equal rights maintains the reality that women married to non-Jordanian men have no right to give their husbands or offspring the Jordanian nationality, while men can easily apply for citizenship for their non-Jordanian wives. Ahed added that the amendment the legislators approved on Sunday “has no legal significance or impact on the rights of women.”

Activist Nuha Mahriz said that “for decades, the women movement has been demanding change to Article 6-1 of the Constitution, to ensure gender equality, but nothing has changed despite the amendments made more than once to the Constitution.”

She added that the Women Sub-Committee working within the Royal Committee faced resistance when calling for the desired change. “Integrating gender is a key step toward meeting the needs of women and changing the stereotypes associated with them in society,” she said, adding that without equal rights, the entire drive toward reform will always be flawed. She concurred with Ahed that the change introduced is useless.

Secretary-general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, Salma Al-Nims, said her organization has been in constant pursuit to change Article 6 to guarantee gender equality and even addressed the Cabinet to add the word “gender” after receiving the suggested changes from the Royal Committee, but that was in vain. 

She said women activists “resented” the type of discussion over the title of Chapter Two, which, she said, involved a great deal of “hate speech and false accusations of pro-women activism.”

MP Farid Haddad described the output of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System as “below expectations”, saying that it “does not meet the needs and priorities of the Jordanian people.”

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