English Translation - Speech of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal at the
Ceremony to mark the 16 Days Campaign to End Gender Based Violence, 6 December, 2015
Distinguished participants and guests,
We meet once more to launch this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence and to once again shed light on one of the most critical human rights issues of our day. This cooperative global movement aims to alleviate and ultimately eradicate the incidence of violence against women by drawing the attention of the world’s decision-makers to its many dangers, and to the importance of putting in place a system of solutions and deterrents that will protect women and empower them to secure their constitutionally guaranteed rights.
I wish to take this opportunity to thank all the participants in this campaign and all those who have made contributions to the cause of justice for women. Notably, the Jordanian National Commission for Women, various government and civil society organizations, the United Nations in Jordan, the USAID Takamol Gender Program, and the Embassy of the Netherlands.
Ladies and gentlemen, violence of all types, especially toward women, threatens the safety and security of communities and undermines their accomplishments.
Violence is a facet of daily life for many people in our region, and many live in the shadow of political and military conflicts that adopt violence as an ideology. It is women and children who suffer the greatest harm in these circumstances.
Violence against women can take many forms, in the home, in the street, in the workplace. Economic violence, for example, occurs when women’s financial and work-related rights are denied, leaving them unable to secure a living and a stable future.
Take the case of Um Muath, the agricultural worker we saw in the film. She represents the situation of many women in Jordan’s labor force, where even educated skilled laborers earn 33% less than their male counterparts. In the private sector, women earn 47% less. This is an indication that the value of work is still severely subject to gender discrimination.
It is true that we have made some progress in improving standards for women. Indeed credit is due to the Jordanian National Commission for Women and different civil society organizations, especially for the recent efforts to abolish Article 308 from the penal code. But we only need to look at figures and statistics to see there are still momentous challenges. The 2015 World Economic Forum report shows, for instance, that the gender gap has actually increased in Jordan, which now puts our country at a ranking of 140 out of 145 in this area. This is due to the current wage gap, along with women’s low representation in the labor market and in positions of power.
Furthermore there is the critical issue of marriage of girls under age 18, which still occurs at a rate of more than 12% in Jordan. Early marriage is in itself traumatic for young girls, but more than that, it leaves them even more vulnerable to domestic abuse than for older women.
Violence comes in many forms, beyond the physical, and they are almost always intertwined. And since most victims suffer in silence, many people come to believe that violence is an accepted fact of life, instead of an aberration. To break down the barrier of silence, there should be easier means for women to report violence without fear of reprisal. This means greater support and ensuring confidentiality.
The 16 Days campaign is an annual call to action toward our common goal: communities that reject violence against women, that uphold their right to make a good living in a safe, productive environment, and treat them as essential partners in developing our beloved country.
Let your commitment to helping Jordanian women escape the cycle of violence be a bright mark in the pages of history