Active agents of change: The women behind empowering vulnerable Jordanian and Syrian refugee women.
To commemorate the 10th anniversary since the establishment of UN Women, we asked our staff to share their experience in working to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment and what supporting vulnerable women in Jordan means to them.
Date: Thursday, July 2, 2020
Witnessing the historical moment
“I started working for UN Women back in November 2006, which at that time was known as the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). I was motivated to advocate for human and women’s rights, and as a Jordanian woman, I wanted to have an active role in making a change in their lives,” affirmed Anoud Majali.
Majali joined the UNIFEM Regional Office for the Arab States as an intern, where she witnessed and actively partook in the historical moment when the United Nations General Assembly created UN Women in an effort to accelerate gender equality and the empowerment of women globally.
“In Jordan, we were very excited about this news. It inspired me even more to continue working with UN Women and to promote the resilience and empowerment of Jordanian women.
Women in Jordan face a lot of challenges and barriers, economically, politically, and in terms of social norms. Over the years, I have worked on multiple projects as a Project Officer to support women’s economic empowerment, advance women’s political participation, and promote access to protection and gender-based violence services in Jordan.
One of my most significant accomplishments was the ‘Achieving E-Quality’ programme in 2012, which was dedicated to enhancing the technical and communication skills of women in the ICT sector, empowering them to assume higher positions in the ICT space. As UN Women, we finished the project in 2014. However, universities across Jordan took over and until today it still runs!
Today, I work hand in hand with civil society, women-led, and grassroot organizations under the Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund to support and build their capacity in providing vital support to vulnerable Jordanian and Syrian women across Jordan. Working with these organizations is imperative for Jordan’s resilience and the advancement of women’s empowerment.
I feel so thrilled that I have been part of UN Women since its inception. Together, alongside inspirational women and partners, we have worked to overcome barriers, break stereotypes, and today we can say that we are well on our way to achieving a world where equality is possible.
I hope to inspire other women to believe in themselves and unleash their potential like so many women throughout my career have inspired me.”
Anoud Majali, 36, is a Project Officer for UN Women in Jordan. Driven by her passion to advocate for human and women’s rights, Majali joined UNIFEM in 2006, where she began her journey in becoming an advocate for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
“I have always been inspired by feminists—women who believe in themselves. Women who advocated, mobilized, and galvanized the advancement of women’s rights, gender equality, and women’s empowerment. I cannot pinpoint one because they all inspire me.
And by looking at their accomplishments, my passion to take action and contribute to the empowerment of women in Jordan began. In 2008, I started as an intern for UNIFEM. After a short period working in a different field, there was something inside me pulling me back. I returned as a Project Assistant for the UN Women Jordan Country Office in 2011.
In my time at UN Women, I worked on multiple projects and witnessed the importance of advancing women’s resilience and empowerment through directly working with women in the field.
One of the biggest challenges, yet what ultimately drives me, is listening to stories of vulnerable women and the hardship they have faced due to persistent inequalities. Then I see the power and strength that they have, and in those moments, I remember why we must continue to work on women’s rights and empowerment, for them and the future of other women.
For myself, one of the critical areas for development is women’s economic empowerment. Over the years, I had the chance to work in this area. Notably, in 2012, I worked alongside my colleagues on the Gender Equity Seal (GES) initiative, an auditable standard and certification system aimed at institutionalizing gender equity policies and facilitating equal opportunities for men and women in the private sector. It was a proud moment to begin realizing women’s equal access to opportunities in the workplace.
In terms of the Jordan Country Office accomplishments, a lot can be said, and I am proud to have had a part in many of its milestone moments. In 2017, the Jordan’s National Action Plan on UN Security Council resolution 1325 on Women, Peace, and Security was launched. Witnessing the development, participatory process and strong political will behind the implementation was a big moment to commemorate for UN Women.
A lot has changed over the past ten years and there has been significant progress in gender equality and women’s empowerment. Challenges still remain, but that is where I, you and we come in, to continue making progress and change.”
Ola Jundi, 34, is a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist for UN Women in Jordan. From a young age, Jundi was inspired by the feminists and women around her who advocated for gender equality and women’s rights, and now she is taking action on her own through her work with UN Women in Jordan.
A soul impassioned by supporting women
“We are all humans and we should support each other. This sentiment ultimately drove me to work within the humanitarian and development sector.
In 2017, I joined UN Women as a Field Assistant, directly supporting Syrian refugees residing in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps. My day-to-day routine at work differs, but one thing that remains on my to-do list every day is making the women smile. For me, it is not just about turning up to work. For me, it is striving for my passion to empower women.
Every day, I would listen to women's stories of hardship and war. I would hear their pain, see their tears, and yet they were standing in front of me ready to change their lives. Seeing their resilience made me realize the importance of UN Women's Oasis centres in their lives and my role in helping to empower them.
In 2018, I assisted with the establishment and expansion of eight Oases centers in in host communities, in partnership with the Ministry of Social Development. It was a very proud moment to be enabling Syrian refugees living in host communities and vulnerable Jordanian women and girls alike to have an opportunity to access relevant technical and vocational skills that can make a massive difference in their lives.
From every woman I have learned something new. They have become my role models and inspired me to work harder. My favourite part of my job is seeing how far women have come. I see them from the day they walk in. Today, women still come and find me even after they have left the Oasis. I see women who have graduated on to have their own business, find work and – most importantly – I see women that truly feel empowered.”
Rawan Majali, 36, is the UN Women Field Officer leading project activities for the 12 UN Women Oasis Centres for the Resilience and Empowerment of Women and Girls in Jordan. She joined UN Women in 2017, with a strong drive to empower women and advocate for gender equality.