As Jordan′s largest and oldest non-profit, non-governmental, organization, The Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development (JOHUD) has been striving to empower whole communities through an integrated grassroots approach which promotes equitable, rights-based sustainable human development.
Established in 1977, the organisation was the first of its kind in Jordan to address development issues at the national level, and one that was unique to the Arab region.
Today, with over thirty years of experience, JOHUD is recognized as a leading national advocate in the field of integrated social and economic development, working in partnership with local communities and NGOs, Jordanian governmental institutions, the United Nations and other international agencies.
From the outset, the organisation has placed emphasis on working with the most vulnerable groups such as women, young people, the elderly and the disabled. JOHUD places people at the centre of the development process, and encourages them to play a leading role in defining and pursuing their own development needs.
The success of JOHUD′s work is derived from its community-based presence and capacity-building approach, which is consolidated through a network of 50 Community Development Centres (CDCs) spread throughout the country. JOHUD maintains its perspective that strategies should be sensitive to the local context, thus all CDCs are locally managed and staff work closely with local community leaders to ensure that their services are tailored to meet local needs.
Each CDC has a Women′s Committee, to allow women to collectively work on issues of shared interest, they work together to ensure that their voices are heard. Likewise, most of the CDC managers are women, creating a cadre of confident and empowered women keen to play an active role in the public sphere. Moreover, the women′s committees have acted as a hub for social and political activists willing and able to engage with emerging democratic processes.
JOHUD′s women′s empowerment programmes reach across the whole Kingdom. More than 5,000 women volunteers dedicate their time and resources to promote the interests of women.
The CDCs also offer a range of educational and training programmes related to health, nutrition, illiteracy, reproductive health and family planning, rural women′s leadership, as well as income-generating activities and access to soft loan schemes.
In addition to the core programmes offered, the CDCs provide a focal point for alliance-building: over 250 Community Based Organisations and thousands of volunteers work alongside JOHUD to reach shared goals. Together they advocate for policies and programmes that address the needs of the poor. JOHUD also attracts funds from national and international donors and channels them to the local CDCs so they can tackle specific challenges. Under Princess Basma′s leadership, JOHUD also designs and implements innovative projects at the national level according to the changing developmental needs of the country. Such projects are geared to help promote economic sustainability and self-reliance. Much of JOHUD′s work is helping local communities to address specific issues that are also of national concern, such as unemployment, poverty, women’s issues, youth empowerment, enhanced participation and rural-urban migration.
JOHUD has played an active role in the positive community progress that has occurred over the last three decades in Jordan. This impact has since progressed to spread throughout the region; JOHUD′s belief in the replicability of its approach has led to its active involvement in some civil society networks in the Middle East. JOHUD provides human sustainable development training in several Arab States and also welcomes development professionals from the region to learn how to integrate a rights-based approach in programmes related to gender, reproductive rights and other issues.
JOHUD AND WOMEN
In 1979, JOHUD carried out the first ever study on women′s needs in Jordan. This revealed the extent of development needs as perceived by women, and led to the emphasis on the provision of basic social services in the areas of health, education and early childhood education. JOHUD responded by setting up pre-schools, using learning by play methods so that children in underprivileged communities had a better start in life. The pre-schools in turn allowed more participants to join CDC activities as childcare was an obstacle for many of the women.
The study also revealed a demand for access to health care for the family. JOHUD′s primary health care services brought preventive medicine through mobile clinics, awareness raising, inoculation campaigns, mother and child clinics and access to family planning. The approach which takes into consideration cultural sensitivity has provided a model within civil society.
JOHUD believes that Jordanian women should claim their rights and entitlements as citizens, and be active participants in the development process. The organisation has been at the forefront of initiatives to ensure women’s empowerment especially in rural areas which may seem to be more traditional and patriarchal than urban areas, but which have yielded some striking success stories.