Jordan is not ranked in the 2012 SIGI due to missing data for one or more SIGI variables. However, the country note below sets out information and data relating to variables where this is available information.
Under the 2011 Human Development Index (HDI), Jordan is ranked in 95th place (out of 187 countries), with a score of 0.698. The Gender Inequality Index value is 0.456 placing it at 83 out of 146 countries. Jordan is ranked 117th in the 2011 Global Gender Gap Index, with a value of 0.6117.
In regard to family matters, the country’s Muslim majority is governed by the personal Status Law which is based on Sharia, and matters relating to marriage, divorce and inheritance are all decided by the Sharia courts. Under the Personal Status Law, all single women (whether divorced, widowed, or never married) under 40 are considered to be legal minors, and are under the guardianship of a male relative. Non-Muslims may apply their own personal status laws, and religious courts for each denomination adjudicate in matters relating to family and divorce for Christians.
The legal age of marriage in Jordan is 18 years; the chief justice can lower this to 15 years in cases where early marriage is deemed to be in the best interest of the young bride or groom. According to data from the 2007 Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) 5.7% of Jordanian girls aged 15 to 19 were married, divorced or widowed. It can be noted that the proportion of never-married men and women aged 15 or older has increased over the past 20 years, but all the same, marriage is virtually universal in Jordan, with only 4% of women questioned in the 2007 DHS remaining unmarried at the end of their reproductive life. Women cannot marry for the first time without the consent of their male guardian, and Muslim women are not permitted to marry non-Muslim men (unless they convert); the same does not apply to Muslim men, who are able to marry Jewish and Christian women.
Muslim men in Jordan have the legal right to practice polygamy. They may take up to four wives, but before marrying a second, third or fourth time, they must prove their financial capability to support another wife. The law also requires that men inform their wives and wives-to-be about each other’s existence. 4.6% of women questioned for the 2007 DHS reported that they were in a polygynous (i.e. male partner with more than one female partner) marriage, with some indication of correlation between denial of access to education, and polygamy (19.5% of women in polygynous marriages reported that they had no education, compared to 3.8% with secondary education).
With regards to parental authority, Jordanian law recognises fathers as the sole legal guardians of children. This is despite the fact that in cases of divorce, mothers are granted custody of their children until they reach puberty, at which point it is up to the child to decide with which parent s/he wants to live. If a divorced woman remarries, she loses custody of her children, who are sent to live with the father, his mother, or the wife’s mother, as decided by the court. Men have the right to divorce their wives arbitrarily (although such divorces must subsequently be registered with the court, who will award financial compensation to the wife), whereas women must either petition the Sharia court for divorce under a narrow range of circumstances, or can obtain a khula divorce, whereby the wife forfeits her dowry and gives up any right to future financial maintenance. Domestic violence is considered grounds for divorce, but is very difficult to prove as the court demands testimony from two adult male witnesses. Female-headed households in rural areas are considered to be among the poorest and most marginalised in Jordan, and overall, it is not considered socially acceptable for women to live alone. Women cannot confer citizenship to children born to a non-Jordanian father. Given the country’s high population of Palestinian (and more recently Iraqi) refugees, this impacts on the rights of a large number of children to access free education, as this is only provided to Jordanian citizens : “A number of recent measures were designed to reduce difficulties faced by Jordanian women married to non-Jordanians including: waiving fines for residency contraventions; extending an exemption from school fees for the 2009-2010 school year; temporary passports for children(3rd periodic report on CCPR, para 24. 2009); and one-year residence permits if the children are in their mother’s care (5th CEDAW report, paras 122).
Sharia law as exercised in Jordan provides for detailed and complex calculations of inheritance shares. Women may inherit from their father, mother, husband or children and, under certain conditions, from other family members. However, their share is generally smaller than that to which men are entitled. Female heirs, for example, typically inherit only half as much as male heirs. Under the Personal Status law, social practices that deprive women of their right to inheritance are prohibited, and it is stated that women have the right to inherit from their husbands and fathers. However, in many cases it is reported that women waive their inheritance rights in favour of a male relative. In some cases, women can face pressure from brothers and other male relatives to renounce their inheritance, and even physical violence. There have also been reports of widows being effectively imprisoned in their own homes after the death of their husbands, or losing custody of their children to their husband’s family if they remarry. A daughter’s share can be further diminished by parents transferring assets to sons before their death, in order to circumvent inheritance rules. Non-Muslim women married to Muslim men are unable to inherit property from their husbands unless they convert. 
 Freedom House (2010); Husseini (2010) pp.195, 200  Husseini (2010) p.200  ECOSOC (2003) p.143  Husseini (2010) p.201  United Nations Population Division / DESA (2008) 14] Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.63  Husseini (2010) p.201  Husseini (2010) p.201 17] Husseini (2010) p.201 18] Husseini (2010) p.201  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.65  Husseini (2010) p.203  Husseini (2010) p.203  Husseini (2010) p.203  Husseini (2010) p.202  ECOSOC (2003) p.145; Husseini (2010) p.202  JICA (2009) p.25; Husseini (2010) p.218  ECOSOC (2003) p.144; Husseini (2010) p.194  Husseini (2010) p.196  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11  UN-HABITAT (2005) p.11  ECOSOC (2003) p.143  FAO et al (2004) p.10  FAO et al (2004) p.10  Housing and Land Rights Network / HABITAT INTERNATIONAL COALITION, UNITED NATIONS Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2004) pp.44, 66  Housing and Land Rights Network / HABITAT INTERNATIONAL COALITION, UNITED NATIONS Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (2004),45  Husseini (2010) p.207  ECOSOC (2003) p.143
Since 2008, Jordan has had a domestic violence law in place, the Family Protection Law, which lays out guidelines for procedures in domestic violence cases for medical practitioners and police officers. The law also includes penalties for perpetrators, including imprisonment. Women’s rights activists have criticised the law, however, because of the emphasis that it places on reconciliation over protecting women’s rights, and because of its narrow definition of domestic violence (as violence that occurs specifically within the victim’s home).
Social awareness of domestic violence has increased, but it remains a significant problem. Of ever-married women questioned for the 2007 DHS, 26.6% of respondents reported that they had experienced at least one incident of physical violence in the past 12 months, most frequently at the hands of their husbands, fathers, or brothers. Incidents are rarely reported, as familial and societal pressure discourage women from seeking legal remedies in cases of domestic violence for fear of bringing shame on the family, and/or because victims have little faith that the police will deal with the case adequately.  In addition, the vast majority of women appear to accept domestic violence as an inevitable part of married life: 90% of women questioned in the 2007 DHS stated that they agreed with at least one of a list of five ‘reasons’ justifying a man beating his wife. While the government has publicly committed to addressing the issue as part of its National Strategy for Women and within other government prooogrammes, support services for victims of domestic violence remain minimal. Some limited support is available to victims of domestic violence, provided by women’s rights NGOs, and in 2007, the country’s first shelter for victims of domestic or other forms of violence against women was opened.
Rape is a criminal offence in Jordan, punishable by up to 15 years’ imprisonment with hard labour, but spousal rape is not recognised as a crime. Under the penal code, rape charges can be dropped if the perpetrator agrees to marry the victim; Husseini, writing in a 2010 report published by Freedom House, concludes that there are no clear procedures in place to ensure that the victim approves of this solution, which is usually arranged through her male guardian. Sexual harassment can also be punished under the penal code, but is not a specific criminal offence.
So-called honour killings are considered to be a serious problem in Jordan. Provisions in article 98 of the Penal Code justify (at least to some extent) these crimes by allowing for lower penalties when a crime is committed in rage or to uphold the family’s honour, following an act deemed to be ‘unlawful or dangerous’ (namely, adultery), although this is a moderate improvement on previous previsions, which allowed for perpetrators of ‘honour’ crimes to be exonerated. In addition, in 2009 a new specialised legal tribunal was set up to deal with ‘honour’ crimes and judges began imposing harsher sentences on perpetrators, indicating some readiness on the part of the government to begin addressing the issue. The 1954 Law on Crime Prevention, which gives provincial governors power to detain people suspected of committing crimes or deemed to be ‘a danger to society’ and to hold them indefinitely without charge or trial, continues to be used to detain women said to be at risk of ‘honour’ crimes ‘for their own protection’, even though this is outside the law’s remit. Amnesty International reports that in 2009, 24 women were killed as a result of ‘honour’ crimes.
Legislation against trafficking has been in place in Jordan since 2009, but the country is considered to be a destination and transit country for men and women trafficked for purposes of forced labour and sexual exploitation from South and Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, and Morocco. This includes a significant number of migrant domestic workers – the majority of whom are female and from Sri Lanka, Indonesia and the Philippines – many of whom are said to be at considerable risk of domestic and sexual violence at the hands of their employers, as well as deprivation of liberty and other forms of abuse. These workers have recently (2008) come under the protection of the Labour Code. Some limited assistance is available to domestic workers attempting to escape abusive employers from women’s rights NGOs and embassies, but it is inadequate to meet demands.
Female Genital Mutilation is reportedly not a general practice, but is believed to occur among one tribal group in the southern part of the country.
Women in Jordan have the legal right to use and obtain access about contraception without their husband’s consent, although in practice, contraceptive providers often do seek the husband’s permission. Women’s knowledge of contraception is very high in Jordan, with over 99% of married women reporting that they were aware of at least one modern method. Usage also appears to be high, with 81.2% reporting that they had at some point used contraception, and 57.1% reporting that they were currently using contraception. 9% of women questioned in the 2007 DHS reported that their husbands had the final say in decisions about the wife’s healthcare; this would presumably include decisions regarding reproductive health and contraceptive use. Elsewhere, Husseini reports that in many rural areas, it is considered unacceptable for a woman to visit the doctor on her own, especially if she is unmarried, again potentially limiting women’s access to reproductive health services. Abortion is legal in cases of foetal impairment, or if the pregnant woman’s health is in danger.
 JICA (2009) p.2. The JICA report does not provide any information as to the provisions under this law. Husseini (2010) pp.193-194 Husseini (2010) p.204  Husseini (2010) p.205  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) pp.172, 173  ECOSOC (2003) p.143; JICA (2009) p.8; Husseini (2010) p.195  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.164. See also JICA (2009) p.7, which makes the point that these views are held equally by young people.  JICA (2009) pp.8, 12; Husseini (2010) p.204  ECOSOC (2003) p.145; Husseini (2010) p.193  ECOSOC (2003) p.143  Husseini (2010) p.205  ECOSOC (2003) p.143; JICA (2009) p.8  See JICA (2009), ECOSOC (2003)  Amnesty International (2010) pp.46, 192; ECOSOC (2003) p.143; JICA (2009) p.8  Husseini (2010) pp.195, 197  Amnesty International (2010) p.191. See also ECOSOC (2003) p.145, Husseini (2010) p.198  Amnesty International (2010) p.192  Husseini (2010) p.203  Amnesty International (2010) p.192; JICA (2009) p.9; Husseini (2010) pp.203, 211  Husseini (2010) p.211  Husseini (2010) p.203  ECOSOC (2003) p.146; UNICEF (2005) p.3  Husseini (2010) p.217  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.45  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) pp.46-47  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.161  Husseini (2010) p.218  UNDP (2007)
Birth rates for girls in Jordan are slightly lower than for boys. According to data in the 2007 DHS, neonatal mortality rates are higher for boys than for girls, but infant and under-five mortality rates are equal or higher for girls. Immunisation rates are, however, slightly higher for girls than for boys (88.2% against 85.7%).
Malnutrition rates are unavailable. 83.2% of women aged 20-24 questioned in the 2007 DHS reported that they had secondary or higher education (men were not asked this question), and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) reports that secondary gross enrolment rates are slightly higher for girls (90%) than for boys (88%). However, the same JICA report states that more boys than girls are enrolled in private schools, indicating that parents are still seeking to invest more in their sons’ education than in daughters’ education, even if denying girls an education outright is no longer common practice.
According to a 2008 survey reported by Husseini, most married women stated that they wanted to give birth to more boys than girls. There was little variation according to the women’s level of education.
The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 1.03. Analysis of sex ratios across age groups shows elevated sex ratios amongst juveniles, providing evidence that Jordan is a country of concern in relation to missing women.
 CIA (2010)  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.88  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.119  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.25  JICA (2009) p.4  JICA (2009) p.18  Husseini (2010) p.218  Central Intelligence Agency (2012)
Women in Jordan have the legal capacity to own land and enter into financial contracts, and they do not need their husband or guardian’s approval to do so.
According to JICA, women own just 4.9% of land in Jordan. Most land plots owned by women are small, because they come into women’s ownership through inheritance, and as mentioned above, women’s inheritance entitlements are half those of men.
Women have the legal right to own and administer property other than land, although after marriage, property acquired jointly by the couple is most often registered in the husband’s name. This results in discrimination against women in the event of divorce, as in this case, the husband has the final say as to whether the wife is entitled to any joint property acquired by the couple during the course of the marriage. Women have the same legal rights as men to access bank loans and other forms of credit. However, requirements for collateral to secure the loan often disadvantage women, as they are less likely to own property and other assets. The situation is improving: some banks now accept the applicant’s salary (in lieu of land or property) as collateral, making it easier for (some) women to obtain credit. In recent years, various institutions and organisations have developed and expanded micro-finance projects that target women, and those living in rural areas are also able to access loans for agricultural development. However, JICA reports that only 21% of female-headed households in rural areas have received loans for agricultural development, compared to 43% of male-headed households.
 Husseini (2010) p.207  JICA (2009) p.24  FAO et al (2004) p.44  FAO et al (2004) p.44  CEDAW (2006) p.81  CEDAW (2006) p.81  CEDAW (2006) p.81; JICA (2009) pp.25, 29  JICA (2009) p.25
Recent amendments to the Passport Act give women the right to apply for their own passports without having to obtain permission from their husbands; however fathers still have the right to prevent their children from leaving the country. Some women’s movement may be restricted on a day-to-day basis as well: 14.4% of women questioned in the 2007 DHS reported that they needed their husband’s permission to visit their own family or relatives.
Freedom of expression, association and assembly are all legally restricted in Jordan, including restrictions on the autonomy of NGOs, including those working on women’s rights. In recent years, there has been increased coverage of gender issues in the media, including gender-based violence and women’s political participation, although some journalists writing on gender issues have faced hostility from wider society and have been accused of being ‘agents of the west’.
Women in Jordan have the same rights to voting and political participation as men. There is a 20% quota is in place for women at municipal elections, and a 6% quota in place for elections to the lower House of Representatives (the latter in place since 2003). However, women remain under-represented in leadership and decision-making positions in the political arena, at both local and national level although there has been recent improvement. As of early 2011, there were 13 women in the House of Representatives (out of 120 – 10.8%), and nine women in the Senate (out of 60 – 15%). The 2009 cabinet contains four women, out of a total of 28, and only one is in charge of a ‘key’ ministry (the department for planning and international development). Some 27.4% of municipal seats are now held by women. The government has introduced a programme to to fast-track women judges, with the aim of reaching 15% target of women’s judges. Women’s numbers tripled from 2.8% to 6.4% in 2008, and were expected to more than triple within two years. There is also a woman attorney general as of 2010.
There have for a long time been many women’s rights organisations active in Jordan, campaigning on a wide range of issues including advocating changes to the country’s personal status law, and to other discriminatory pieces of legislation. Women’s rights NGOs also provide income-generation activities to women in rural areas.
Pregnant women in Jordan are entitled to 10 weeks’ paid maternity leave. There are no provisions in the Labour Code specifically outlawing discrimination on the basis of gender in employment, or stipulating that men and women should be paid the same. Married women cannot work without their husbands’ consent, although this is not the case if a woman was already working when she married, and there are also a range of occupations that women are prohibited from entering, and women in most occupations are banned from working at night. According to JICA, women face considerable discrimination in employment, particularly in regard to unequal pay. This is most pronounced in the private sector, where the pay gap is reported to be 45%. Levels of employment outside the home for women appear to be very low, with 87.9% of women aged 15-49 not considering themselves to be in employment.
 Husseini (2010) p.200  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.161  Amnesty International (2010) pp.191-192; Freedom House (2010); Husseini (2010) p.194  Husseini (2010) pp.204, 212, 215  Husseini (2010) p.193  JICA (2009) pp.7, 13; Freedom House (2010)  JICA (2009) pp.iii, 6; Husseini (2010) p.213  Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-a); Inter-Parliamentary Union (n.d.-b)  JICA (2009) p.7  Husseini (2010) p.193  FAO et al (2004) p.14  ILO (2009); Husseini (2010) p.210  Husseini (2010) p.208  Huesseini (2010) pp.201, 209  JICA (2009) p.27 JICA (2009) p.27  Department of Statistics and Macro International Inc. (2008) p.28. See also ICA (2009) p.26
Formerly part of the Ottoman Empire and then governed under mandate by Britain, Jordan – a constitutional monarchy – became independent in 1946. Classed as a lower middle income country by the World Bank, Jordan’s economy is much smaller than that of many of its neighbours, and poverty and unemployment are significant problems. The majority of the population are Sunni Muslim, but there is also a Christian minority of various different denominations.
In recent years, the status of Jordanian women in society has improved somewhat, particularly in regard to access to education and (modest) improvements in legislation to protect women’s rights within the home and the workplace. In particular, the revision of the Social Security Law has extended social protection to housewives, introduced maternity insurance and provided greater equality in retirement benefits. However, their economic and social opportunities are still not equal to those of men, in part as a result of the continued persistence of discriminatory legislation, but also due to entrenched patriarchal norms that limit women’s freedom and autonomy.
Article 2 of Jordan’s Constitution states that women and men are equal before the law, and outlaws discrimination on the basis of gender. However, many other pieces of legislation – such as the Personal Status Law, Social Security and Pension Law and Labour Law – contain clauses that discriminate against women. Jordan ratified the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women in 1992, but continues to hold reservations to Article 9(2), on nationality and Article 16(1), paragraphs (C), (D), and (G), related to marital, custody, and personal status issues. Jordan has not yet ratified the Optional Protocol to CEDAW, on violence against women.
 CIA (2010); Freedom House (2010)  World Bank (n.d.); CIA (2010)  CIA (2010)  Husseini (2010) p.194  FAO et al (2004) p.44; Husseini (2010) p.196  JICA (2009) p.11; Husseini (2010) p.196  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.); Husseini (2010) p.198  United Nations Treaty Collection (n.d.)
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