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Jordan

The future is in her hands

Bassam Sebti's picture
Also available in: العربية | Français | Español


She is described as having strong ideas. A spirited and energetic girl who dreams of a big future, Shams helps children and encourages them to learn and play.

But Shams is not a real child. She is a Muppet and one of the most popular fictional characters in the children’s show Iftah Ya Simisim, the Arabic version of the popular, long-running US children’s show Sesame Street, which was introduced in the Arab world in the 1980s.

Women are key for corporate success

Ahmed Ali Attiga's picture

Female board members can dramatically improve the fortunes of public companies — and the Middle East

While the Middle East has made strides towards gender equality in recent years, the upper echelons of its corporate world are still dominated by men.

Nowhere is that more apparent than in Jordan. Women there hold just 4% of all board of directors’ seats, and nearly four-fifths of firms don’t have any women on their boards. Those numbers pale in comparison with many other countries, including the United Kingdom, where 25% of all board members are women.

But a new study from IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, suggests that companies would do well to inject some female leadership into their ranks — a finding that has deep implications for the entire region.

How Jordan is expanding its assistance to victims of gender-based violence

Paul Prettitore's picture
Grasping the full extent of violence against women is difficult everywhere.   In the Middle East, it can be both difficult and dangerous for women to report abuse given social attitudes toward the roles of women and men within the family. 

In Jordan, the violence against girls and women embodies the problem.  The Jordanian government’s Population and Family Health Survey captures only a portion of the scale of violence against women.  Social norms are at play; roughly 70% of Jordanian women think there are circumstances that justify a husband beating his wife.  Over one-third (34%) of Jordanian women report that they have experienced some form of physical violence since the age of 15.  One in three Jordanian women experienced some form of emotional, physical, and/or sexual violence from their spouse, and almost 1 in 10 experience sexual violence at least once in their lifetime. 

One of the major concerns resulting from the survey is that almost half (47%) the women reporting violence did not seek any type of help, with less than 5% taking steps to address sexual violence.  Very few women seek help from medical providers, police, lawyers or social service organizations. 

Over the past four years the World Bank Group has been collaborating with the Justice Center for Legal Aid (JCLA) -- a Jordanian civil society organization -- to pilot legal aid services for poor Jordanians as well as Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian refugees.  As is often the case, poverty status is a strong indicator of the likelihood of violence in Jordan.  Poorer women were more likely to report all types of violence, and higher frequency of such violence.  They are also more likely to believe such violence is justified. 

The legal aid program provides awareness/information, counseling and legal representation by a lawyer to aid the poor in addressing legal problems.  The majority of JCLA beneficiaries – just over 70% - are women.  And one of the ‘justice gaps’ identified by JCLA is in providing effective legal services to female victims of violence. 

Jordan adopted legislation to protect victims of domestic violence in 2008, giving victims, for the first time, access to protection orders – one of the most effective tools in addressing violence.  Victims can also receive direct compensation.  It also provided confidential proceedings and procedures to detain alleged abusers.  A specialized institution – the Family Protection Department of the Ministry of Interior – was established to implement the reform, providing access to multiple services, including complaints/investigation, medical care and social counseling.   
 
Yet the law left a number of gaps in place.  It applies only to perpetrators living with the victims, so ex-husbands, boyfriends and brothers may not be covered, and the survey shows they are often the ones committing the abuse. It also leaves in place a heavy focus on reconciliation, to the possible detriment of protecting the victims.   Lack of shelters for victims, along with the inability to link requests for child custody and child support with protection orders, may prevent many women from seeking help. 

To date, JCLA’s assistance has been focused primarily around awareness and information for victims.  This focus is now about to grow.  With the assistance of the World Bank Group, JCLA is launching an initiative to provide more comprehensive services to women victims of violence.  The plans include establishing a referral system in the Family Protection Department and placing a legal aid lawyer at each of the Department’s in-take centers.

What do we hope to achieve?  There are several opportunities.  The overarching goal is to ensure poor women can access services and achieve some level of justice to address the violence they suffer.  More specifically, the referral system should aid in providing victims the legal services they need to initiate and navigate criminal proceedings, including obtaining and enforcing protection orders.     Victims will also have assistance addressing legal problems commonly linked to domestic violence, such as divorce, child custody, child support and alimony. 

As a lawyer, I volunteer my time representing poor persons, including women seeking protection orders, at the Superior Court here in Washington, D.C.  I understand the importance of providing legal assistance to female victims of domestic violence, and am encouraged to see such an initiative launched in Jordan.  

Unleashing private investment in renewable energy

Korina Lopez's picture
Also available in: Español | العربية | Français
Angus McCrone, Jin-Yong Cai, and Rune Bjerke discuss renewable energy. © Franz Mahr/World Bank


More than 700 million people live in extreme poverty around the world. If that number seems daunting, then consider this: 1.1 billion people – more than three times the population of the United States – live without electricity.

So it goes without saying that ending energy poverty is a key step in ending poverty itself. And world leaders agree – a sustainable development goal just for energy was adopted last month. It emphasizes the role of renewable energy in getting us to the finish line of reaching sustainable energy for all by 2030. What will give us a big boost in that race? Private financing.

I am a migrant

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | 中文 | Español
Courtesy Jim Yong Kim


​In 1964, I came to the United States from South Korea, then an extremely poor developing country that most experts, including those at the World Bank, had written off as having little hope for economic growth.

My family moved to Texas, and later to Iowa. I was just 5 years old when we arrived, and my brother, sister, and I spoke no English. Most of our neighbors and classmates had never seen an Asian before. I felt like a resident alien in every sense of the term.

Build it and growth will come

Dimitris Tsitsiragos's picture
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Solar panels in Morocco. © Dana Smillie/World Bank


By encouraging private investment in infrastructure, we can spur growth in the developing world

Later this month the United Nations is expected to finalize its Sustainable Development Goals, a global action plan designed to end poverty and support long-term growth. One of the goals states, “Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialization and foster innovation.” 
 
In many parts of the developing world, from Asia to Latin America, a massive infrastructure shortfall may be the single most significant obstacle to human and economic development. Addressing it will underpin progress on many of the SDGs.

Rousseau isn’t the first, nor last, to negotiate a ‘social contract’

Mehrunisa Qayyum's picture
Also available in: Français | العربية | Español
Webcast Replay



“50% of Arab world citizens are dissatisfied with public services in their area,” according to a World Bank survey — which prompted not one, but two sessions at the World Bank Group-International Monetary Fund Spring Meetings. So it was no coincidence that the meme #BreaktheCycle emerged in another Middle East and North Africa (MENA) panel, “Creating Jobs and Improving Services: A New Social Contract in the Arab World,” which also revisited the theme of the social contract in both oil-importing and exporting countries.

Snowmelt, climate change and urban pollution—new perspectives

Tracy Hart's picture
Image by U.S. National Climate Assessment via Washington PostIt's been a snowy winter—not only here in Washington D.C., but also in places I travel, namely Jerusalem and Amman. The past week, the snowmelt runoff into Rock Creek in D.C. has been a sight to watch. It's also been a teachable moment for my daughter: we've talked about how snowmelt contributes to surface water flows.

Actually I talk, and she goes "okay, okay" looking out the window.

She and I have learned a few new facts to share: one is the linkage of irregular precipitation associated with global climate change.

Chris Mooney, the environment and climate change writer for the Washington Post, recently wrote a great article explaining why more snow is another result of climate change. D.C. is on the south border of the NE of the United States, where, as you can see from the map, (provided by the US National Climate Assessment), extreme rain/snow events have increased dramatically. Similarly, in Jerusalem three weeks ago, the snow came with sleet, blueberry-size hailstones (see below) and lightning.

World Bank Group President Jim Kim: Inside the G20

Jim Yong Kim's picture
Also available in: Русский

The Group of 20 leaders met for an intense 24-hour period over two days, discussing the situation in Syria and the global economy. Watch this video blog to hear what World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim thought shouldn't be forgotten in these important discussions.

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