The August 27, 2013 municipal elections in Jordan marked a positive step forward for women’s political participation in the country. With women candidates winning 345 of 961 seats (36 percent of the seats on the country’s 00 municipal councils), the country saw a significant increase from the 28 percent elected in the 2007 municipal elections. Fifty-one women won seats outright in the election despite being aided by a 25 percent quota, which is a historic high in Jordan. As a result of these gains, Jordan is at the forefront of gender change in the Arab world.
To support women running for office, IRI and the Arab Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) offered campaign workshops throughout the summer of 2013. Of the women elected, 48 attended IRI-sponsored workshops and 13 attended AWLI workshops.
Most notably, Shefa Sawwan, who attended IRI’s summer campaign school, attributed her success in the recent elections to the skills she learned at the training. Sawwan won a seat on the Naseem Municipal Council in the Jerash Governorate. In the two weeks leading up to the elections and upon her return from her pilgrimage in Mecca at the end of Ramadan, she said, “I made a colorful brochure and palm cards as I had learned at the IRI campaign training [in June in Jerash].” Sawwan then utilized another IRI campaign school tip to use SMS messaging to urge and encourage friends and family to vote for her.
Additionally, Maha al-Marashdeh, an AWLI member, was reelected to her municipal council seat on the Soum Municipal Council. Marashdeh said she was initially inspired to run for office after becoming an AWLI member, which helped her gain the skills needed to serve as an elected official and run a successful campaign. Marashdeh’s priority for this term is to improve the governing practices in her municipality. She also indicated that she plans on running in future elections stating, “Commitment to improving my city was a big part of my campaign, and I hope that it is my proven commitment that will help me win the mayoral seat in the next election cycle.”
Other AWLI who gained seats are:
- Lina al-Ora – Ma’an Municipal Council, Ma’an
- Fatima Bani Yassein – Der Abi Saied Municipal Council, Irbid
- Maison Meqdadi – Der Abi Saied Municipal Council, Irbid
- Khawla Al Kayed – Jerash Municipal Council, Jerash
- Hadwa Najadat – Aqaba Municipal Council, Aqaba
- Ahlam Masanat – Great Karak Municipal Council, Karak
- Fatima Al Habahbeh – Shobak Municipal Council, Ma’an
- Amneh Al Naimi – Shobak Municipal Council, Mafraq
- Ghada Shabatat – Great Tafeleh Municipal Council, Tafeleh
- Bahyeh Quteshat – Qadesyeh Municipal Council, Tafeleh
- Mozeh Frehat – Kofranjeh Municipal Council, Ajloun