No limits for women's rights: the ambitious goal of a volunteer with UN Women in Jordan
Date: Sunday, December 8, 2019
During her experience as a national UN Volunteer with UN Women for almost a year, Natalie Nustas has seen firsthand the countless challenges faced by women in both the private and public sphere. She’s also seen the life-changing impact of empowering women to have a voice, opportunities for work, and hope.
Having been raised in a socially conservative environment, Natalie explains that she was one of the lucky ones. Empowered to pursue her education, she obtained a Master’s degree in Media and Development from the United Kingdom.
Perhaps this is why joining UN Women as a volunteer after she settled in Jordan seemed like a natural move. Though she acknowledges that gender inequality is a worldwide issue, she says, "It’s hard to be a woman from the Middle East and not be affected by the issues around women’s rights."
In fact, in the Gender Gap Report 2018, which measures the gaps between the access of men and women to work, education, health and political and economic participation, the scores of the Arab States were well below the global average.
Natalie, 25, is particularly concerned for the rights of Syrian women living in refugee camps. Since the beginning of the Syria crisis in 2011, Jordan has hosted around 670,000 refugees (according to the latest UNHCR figures) of whom around 17 per cent live in the refugee camps of Za‛atari and Azraq.
"In the camps, opportunities for women are limited and many are still healing from losing family members due to the conflict in Syria, while being still at risk of gender-based violence." This is something that Natalie has experienced in her own life. She shares:
As a UN Volunteer, Natalie has been visiting camps regularly. supporting UN Women's interventions there, working on gender equality and women's empowerment.
After her experience at UN Women, Natalie is able to place her personal experiences in the context of the global trends; she is conscious that, across the world, gender equality is still a long way off.
"In our societies, we’re told women should be educated… but only to a certain level. Women should speak… but not too much, as it would reflect negatively on their image. Women are taught to only aspire to marriage, as is should be the most important ambition to base life choices upon," affirmed Natalie.
However, she remains determined to speak out, and support others to do so, too.