Towards A Productive Women's Movement Enlightening Jordanian Models

Adel Azzam Saqf Al-Hait


The organized women's movement flourished in the west during World War II ;being encouraged by the widespread use of European females in labour in sectors previously dominated by the then bearing arms males, in industry and agriculture, private and governmental institutions, and in army logestic support sectors such as military industries and military medical services. Fulfilling that crucial role behind the lines during war, and participating in the re-building of postwar Europe, European women were entitled to, and certainly pushed to, a higher-than-before position in their societies.
However, the women's movement in its international dimention, known now as feminism, is not a western or a contemporary only phenomenon; but rather a dynamic and historical one that emerged long ago and formed a corner stone of civilized victorious societies. Ancient Egyptian inscriptions depict women working side-by-side with men, having equal dimentions with them and clad in prosperity-depicting lively dresses.Papyrus scrolls attested that women were paid equal wages as men. Ancient Egyptions and Greeks had Gods and Godesses; the laters were sympols of fertility, love and happiness.Also, under the rule of Queen Zenobia, Palmyra grew rich and strong. Else-where, wives of dignitaries of the Tribe of Quoraish in Arabia were influential, ran their own trading buisenesses, married and divorced out of their own will .Later, Islam gave women the high status they are entitled to. To start with, the concept of Adam's seduction by Eve was rebutted; according to Islamic beliefs, Satan seduced them both. Islam proceeded then to allocate to women their long due rights in all aspects.
Evidently, feminism is far from symbolizing a certain culture or characterizing one and only civilization. Rather, for millenia, it has been a human phenomenon related to socio-economic conflicts. Historical studies concluded that women's achievements in terms of their rights were always proportionate to their economic status .As a general, when and where women played important roles in their national economies, women enjoyed higher social status, freedom of choice and self-dependence. History have also shown that women's movements had to struggle their way up, taking at the same time, rational consideration to their societies' cultures and potentials .Rather than being based on the" same sex" concept, co-ordination between various women's movements should be based on common principles and visions. Hence, feminism is either a productive or an unproductive activity. The later is usually not concerned with working women and / or follows suit an imported model of women's movement, regardless of its society's actual and special needs. As a result such unproductive movements create enmities within their societies among males, religious sectors and civil societies. They get stigmatized as collaborators and permissives. Also, being predominantly of high class and least concerned with the working women class, they get descriped as gender and class racists. They end up being isolated or ostracized.
Productive fiminism, on the other hand, goes into length to support women working into various professions and vocations, formulate policies and programmes in conformity and integration with corresponding national needs and in observance of national culture.
Following are two Jordanian models of productive feminism. The first one supports women working in weaving, conserving at the same time that fine craft. The second one supports female graduates of Translation and English Literature, providing them necessary skills, and encouraging at the same time the practice of  professionwith
translation in Jordan.
The "Bani- Hameeda Women for Weaving"; a distinguished productive project, rendered the skills of the traditional craft of rug weaving available to younger generations, conserving thus, that fine craft. Located in a remote and poor area of Ma'adaba Governorate, the mountainous village of Bani-Hameeda is burdened with poverty, improper public services and lack of private developmental initiatives. That was the case when the project started in 1985, pursuant to an agreement between the "Save the Child Institution " and the" Ministry of Social Development ", and a generous support of Her Majesty Queen Nor El Hussain.The project aims at encouraging traditional crafts, and generating through them income for participating families. In 1987 a grant donated by the USAID enabled extension of the project to involve more village women. In 1996 the "Jordan Society for Development" was established and took over the project .The Society later joined the "Jordan River Institution". Curruntly, 1644 women from 450 families of Bani-Hameeda are participating in this income generating project.
Using wooden spindles and ground mounted looms, superior pure wool rugs are woven, for which domestic and foreign demand is mounting up. In 2003, utilizing a "City Group Bank" grant, the project pioneered a new field; hand made candles, the marketing of which is based on studies- proved fact that candles hand made of pure natural ingredients are more luminous than candles manufactured of cheap chemical ingredients.
The second model, the " National Translation Programme ", being held and financed since 2003 by the " Leading Arabian Trading Company - Latrade " in its office in Amman, aims at supporting the economic status of female graduate participants; providing them with necessary practical skills; training them to be up to posts such as translators, department heads, conference co-ordinators, executive secretaries and so on; and recommending them for jobs in prominent institutions; all free of charge. Candidates sitting for the fitness test should be qualified in Translation or English Literature, and should pass the test with a minimum of grade good. The programme is meant to provide the trainees with practical experienc in Arabic to and from English translation in different fields such as law, business, sciences, medicine, literature and else. Also with skills of interpretation, computer and administration. It offers hours of workshops and theoritical courses in different fields of applied translation. Every trainee shall be entitled to certificates of the courses she attended, and a qualifying certificate at the end of the 500 hours programme.However, due to limited financial resources, the total number of famale translators who joined the programme is around 50, yet the programme is progressing steadily.
Inspite of gross differences in their resources and number of participants, both programmes aim at revolutionizing the intellectual abilities of the participants and at convincing them practically of their scientific and vocational income generating potentials, their income management abilities and - just like males - their participation positively in their families' and country's economy.
Feminism thus, is not limited to slogans, but practically materializing them.