Asma Khader, fighter for women’s rights in Jordan, dies at 69

Jordan has long been an unwavering ally of Western countries. But the status of women – their treatment in the labor market, their access to good medical care, and their participation in politics – has deteriorated in recent years, although Jordanian women have made progress in the field of education. A country where conservative tribes are often the backbone of government authority, Jordan has ranked low in the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for the past decade.

Nearly 11,000 girls under the age of 18 were married off by their parents in 2017 alone, according to Ms. Khader, often in refugee camps and marginalized communities. In a context of high unemployment, marrying a girl is seen as a way to ease the financial burden on the head of the family. The rates of physical, sexual or emotional abuse of women between the ages of 15 and 49 are also high.

“Asma has remained focused on ensuring that other women, especially those from underserved and refugee communities, have access to skills training, learning and economic opportunities,” said the Women’s Learning. Partnership in a press release.

Asma Hanna Khader was born on January 25, 1952 in Zababida, a city in the West Bank, then under Jordanian rule. His father, Hanna, was a translator for the Jordanian Armed Forces. His mother, Martha, owned a clothing store in Amman. Asma attended school in the city and worked in her mother’s store.

Ms. Khader received her undergraduate law degree from Damascus University in 1977. She established her own law firm in 1984 and was one of the few practicing female lawyers in Jordan.

In Jordan, Ms. Khader lived under martial law, imposed by King Hussein after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. The law prohibited political parties and large public meetings, and gave the government broad powers to restrict freedom of movement. expression and the press and to try ordinary criminal cases in military courts.

Ms Khader joined the male-dominated opposition movement, becoming a vocal political activist despite the risk of being detained. She also represented political prisoners.