Lawmaker Wafa Bani Mustafa delivers a first for Jordanian women

Updated 08 March 2019
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Lawmaker Wafa Bani Mustafa delivers a first for Jordanian women

AMMAN: When Wafa Bani Mustafa decided to run for Jordan’s Parliament in 2010, using the newly created women’s quota, few believed she could win. The mother-of-two faced resistance both in her village Suf and the Jerash district.

“I ran for office at age 31, the minimum age allowed to run for Parliament,” she told Arab News.

However, Bani Mustafa had a clear idea of her campaign platform from the outset. “I decided to focus on the needs of working mothers,” she said. Not only did the lawyer overcome the odds to emerge victorious, she has since run for Parliament twice and won.

However, it would take Bani Mustafa three parliamentary terms before she was able, along with others, to introduce and pass legislation that advances the rights of working women.

The difficulties that women in Jordan encounter daily are not limited to the workplace. The House of Representatives was a microcosm of the country’s conservative, male-dominated society. “When I ran for the leadership of a parliamentary bloc in 2011, I was criticized by some of my male colleagues,” she recalled.

Today Bani Mustafa is Jordan’s leading female parliamentarian, having served on the board of the National Council on Human Rights and campaigned for a change in the law that stops Jordanian women passing on their citizenship to their children.

But of all Bani Mustafa’s achievements, the one that gives her greatest satisfaction is her successful campaign to overturn a Jordanian law that allowed rapists to escape punishment if they married their victims. “It is the change of Article 308 that left a mark,” she said.

True to form, Bani Mustafa has not restricted her advocacy of women’s rights to the relatively limited ambit of Jordan. She has headed the committee of the pan-Arab Women’s Parliamentary Commission dedicated to combating domestic violence.

“I am a feminist and I believe in feminism and want more women to fight for feminist issues, but I also have opinions and ideas about all of society,” she said.

“We need to work a lot on our culture and society, as they have in Tunisia. Most of the rest of the Arab world is still struggling in this area.”


Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi. (Supplied)
Updated 29 min 37 sec ago
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Key events in Egypt since the 2011 pro-democracy uprising

CAIRO: Here are key events in eight years of turmoil and transition in Egypt, leading up to a national referendum on constitutional amendments that could allow President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi to remain in power until 2030.

● Feb. 11, 2011: Autocrat Hosni Mubarak steps down after 18 days of nationwide protests against his nearly 30-year rule. The military takes over, dissolving Parliament and suspending the constitution after the uprising leaves hundreds of protesters dead in clashes with security forces.

● Nov. 28, 2011-Feb. 15, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood wins nearly half the seats in multi-stage elections for the first post-Mubarak Parliament.

● June 30, 2012: The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate Muhammad Mursi takes office as Egypt’s first freely elected president.

● Aug. 12, 2012: Mursi removes the defense minister and military chief, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, and replaces him with El-Sisi.

● Nov. 22, 2012: Mursi unilaterally decrees greater powers for himself, a move that sparks days of protests.

● Dec. 15-22, 2012: Egyptians approve a constitution drafted and hastily passed by Parliament amid protests and walkouts by other groups.

● June 30, 2013: On Mursi’s anniversary in office, millions of Egyptians begin days of demonstrations demanding his resignation. The military gives him 48 hours to reach an agreement with his opponents, but he vows to remain in office.

● July 3, 2013: El-Sisi announces Mursi’s removal.

● Aug. 14, 2013: More than 600 people, mostly Mursi supporters, are killed when police clear two pro-Mursi sit-ins in Cairo. Mursi supporters retaliate by torching government buildings, churches and police stations. Hundreds more die in subsequent violence.

● Dec. 25, 2013: The government designates the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.

● May 26-28, 2014: Egyptians vote in a presidential election. El-Sisi wins with 96.9 percent of the vote.

● May 16, 2015: Mursi and more than 100 others are sentenced to death over a mass prison break during the 2011 uprising.

● Oct. 2015: Egypt holds parliamentary elections, leading to an assembly packed with El-Sisi supporters.

● April 2, 2018: El-Sisi wins a second, four-year term in office, with more than 97 percent of the vote.
● Feb. 2019: Lawmakers submit proposed amendments to the constitution that allow El-Sisi to remain in power beyond his current second four-year term.

● April 10: President Donald Trump welcomes El-Sisi to the White House for a second official visit.

● April 17: The Parliament, packed with El-Sisi’s supporters, overwhelmingly passes the proposed amendments.

● April 18: Egypt’s National Election Authority schedules three days of voting in a nationwide referendum on the amendments. The vote takes place Saturday through Monday.