From Where I stand: “A woman who knows her rights and makes decisions for herself is a woman who can conquer the world.”

Date: Sunday, November 25, 2018

Houaida Khaitan's commitment to advocate for women’s empowerment and their rights in Jordan was formed at a young age. Utilizing her years of experience as a psychotherapist, she has been providing psychological support services for survivors of sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV), at the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU) hotline. With the generous support of the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis and the Government of France, UN Women and JWU are providing 12,000 SGBV survivors in Jordan with non-stigmatized protection services, skills development, and awareness raising.

Houaida Khaitan provides psychological support to survivors of SGBV at the Jordanian Women’s Union Center in Amman. Photo: UN Women/Lauren Rooney.

“Young girls and women are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence. Often, too many women live a life of torment because they don’t know their rights and they’re not aware that they should be treated with respect by men.

Ever since I was young, I recognized the difference between men and women in this culture: women are raised to obey their husbands or fathers. It was a tradition I didn’t agree with. I knew I had to make it my purpose to stand up for women and to raise awareness about our rights at home and in our lives. This decision shaped my career path and my future.

I have been volunteering and supporting women since the 1980s. After completing my studies as a psychotherapist, I began working with the Jordanian Women’s Union as a hotline counselor. 

Every day I have up to ten cases of women who have endured mental and physical abuse. Women phone through to our hotlines or come into our centers feeling completely defeated. Their dignity has been stripped away by their abusers and, worst of all, they truly believe they have no right to stand up for themselves.

My favorite part about this job is seeing women transform after we provide them with the support and vital information they need. My main strategy is to help them to make their own decisions. For most of their lives, they have had somebody else deciding on their behalf; finally they can feel empowered by deciding to do something for themselves.

I want to show women that nothing is impossible. A woman who knows her rights and makes decisions for herself is a woman who can conquer the world. It is incredibly important that we continue supporting women, especially women who have undergone sexual and gender-based violence.”