From where I stand: “I want to change the perception on women working in the security sector and build women up”

Major Enas Abu Anzeh is the Head of the Women’s Affairs Section with the Directorate of Civil Defense (JCD) of Jordan. She has been working to support women's full participation in achieving and sustaining peace as a member of the national coalition that led the development of Jordan’s first National Action Plan on United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 (2000) on Women, Peace and Security (JONAP).

Date: Wednesday, October 30, 2019

Major Enas Abu Anzeh, 39, heads the Women's Affairs sectionin the JCD, she is working to implement the JONAPwithin the JCD and to advance women's participation in the security sector. Photo: UN Women/ Lauren Rooney

QuoteWhen I was young, I remember how admiringly I would look at my father dressed in his military uniform, analysing the intricate details of his service ribbons and seeing his glowing pride for serving the country. From those early moments, I envisaged myself asa woman garnering the uniform and the ribbons – but most importantly, I saw myself in the same leadership position as my father. 

In 2005, the Directorate of Civil Defense launched a pilot phase for women to join the sector. At 25 years old, I stood alongside the first cohort of 60 women ready for deployment. 

The pressure of expectations of being a pioneer woman in the security sector started on the first day. I knew that the future of other women accessing these opportunities relied on us proving our worth.

That notion drove me to work hard. After 14 years of service, I worked my way up from a Junior Officer to the Director of the Strategy section.I realized that my dream to provide more women with access to opportunities and leadership positions came down to the dedication and effort that we all put in from the beginning. Now 1,300 women are working in the JCD.

In 2015, I became a member of the national coalition established to draft Jordan’sfirst National Action Plan on UNSCR 1325. Since the beginning, I recognized the importance of its implementation in advancing women’s participation in the security sector and peacekeeping processes. 

I am thrilled to see that many of the suggestions I made were included in the  JONAP, and they will not only be adopted  here at the JCD but across the entire security sector... And beyond the security sector, the JONAP will contribute to ensure peace, security and the stability of Jordan. 

The JONAP has drastically changed the outlook on gender equality and women’s empowerment at the JCD. I frequently clarified the importance of established specialized entity to follow women's affairs. This year, the section of Women’s Affairs was established supported by the high leadership . It is only the beginning,but I am determined to move this agenda forward.

One of the main barriers for women is the limited access to leadership skills-building and positions. I want to change the perception on women working in the security sector, promote equal opportunities and build women up to become the next leaders. 

With support from the Government, the Jordanian National Commission for Women and UN Women, we are one step closer to achieving equality within peace and security sectors. 

It took me 14 years to reach the position I am in now. It has not lacked challenges, but I did not give up trying. I never underestimated myself. I believed in my potential and, in doing so, I have the chance to provide opportunities to other women, to prove their capacities and gain enough chances to achieve that."

SDG 5: Gender equality
SDG 16: Peace, justice and strong institutions

Major Enas Abu Anzeh, 39, heads the Women's Affairs section in the JCD and is the highest-ranking woman in the Directorate. She is working to implement the JONAP within the JCD and to advance women's participation in the security sector. Her efforts contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 16, which promotes women’s participation in peacebuilding, and SDG 5, which seeks to empower all women and girls, and promote their access to leadership and decision-making positions in all areas.

Under the JONAP, UN Woman – in partnership with the Jordanian National Commission for Women – is providing technical assistance and capacity building opportunities to Jordan’s Security Sector Agencies in integrating gender perspectives into security sector’s operations, tactics and strategies. This initiative is generously supported by the Governments of Canada, Finland, Norway, Spain, and United Kingdom.