at the lab
Talk: Towards an Intersectional Perspective on Women’s Issues
Dr. Sara Ababneh and Shaker Jarrar

Sunday 16 February 2020
The Lab I 6:30 pm

Dr. Sara Ababneh and journalist Shaker Jarrar will speak on the importance of moving away from ‘qadiyat al mar’a’ in the singular towards Jordanian Women intersectionality, addressing the perils of treating poverty as a separate issue or isolating it from women’s social realities. In this light, the speakers will look closely at women’s participation in the Jordanian Popular Movement (Hirak) in 2011/2012 and the Day Wage Labour Movement, as well as the situation of female indebtors in the country. 

“Jordanian women were an integral part of the Jordanian Popular Movement (al Hirak al Sha’bi al Urduni, Hirak in short) protests in 2011/2012. Yet, despite their large numbers and presence, female protestors did not call for any of the commonly known ‘women’s issues’ (qadaya al mar’a) which include fighting Gender-Based Violence (GBV), legal reform, increasing women’s political participation, and women’s economic empowerment. This paper argues that the protestors’ silence concerning most of the problems usually included in the list of ‘women’s issues’ raises the question of how prevalent these issues are (or not) in the lives of Jordanian women. Drawing on Foucault’s notion of discourse, insights from intersectional feminists and critical development studies, I argue that the composition of the Jordanian women’s movement on the one hand, and how these women conceptualize women’s rights discursively, as a result of how global discursive shifts were adopted in Jordan on the other hand, help explain why the list of women’s issues ignores the lived realities of most Jordanian women. In detail, I examine who participated in the Hirak and who did not. I seek to understand the absence of members of the Jordanian Women’s Movement through conducting a historical reading of this movement. In contrast, I study why women members of the Day Wage Labor movement participated in the Hirak. This contrast helps me think through what a list of women’s issues that includes national and communal issues might look like. The paper ends with recent developments in Jordanian women’s rights activism and asks whether intersectional understandings of womanhood are being considered.” - Dr.Sarah Ababneh.

Dr. Sara Ababneh is Assistant Professor at the University of Jordan’s Center for Strategic Studies. She is the head of the political and social studies unit. Dr. Ababneh earned her DPhil in Politics and International Relations from the St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford in 2010.  Her dissertation topic focused on female Islamists in Hamas in occupied Palestine and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. She was the Carnegie Centennial Fellow at the Middle East Institute at Columbia University in 2016. Dr. Ababneh’s research interests include class, gender and struggles for social justice and economic sovereignty. She has published on female Islamists in Hamas in occupied Palestine and the Islamic Action Front in Jordan. She has also worked on Personal Status Law reform. More recently, she has published on women in the Jordanian Day-Wage Labor movement and the popular protests of 2011/2012 and 2018. 
Shaker Jarrar is a writer and editor at 7iber. He finished his master’s degree in sociology from the University of Jordan in Amman, where he studied the situation of daily workers in the Jordanian public sector.