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Forum Participants Confirm the Significance of the Role of Civil Society in Fortifying Development and Human Rights

At a forum hosted by Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies, moderator by the
researcher Hadeel Al-Qudah of Phenix Center, participants confirmed that the role of civil
society organizations is not limited to merely service provision. Instead, CSOs play an essential
role in development, reform, and awareness-raising on a variety of legal and socio-economic
Participants further called for increased freedom for CSO, which would in turn allow for
increased effectiveness and improved reach for beneficiaries in need of capacity-building and
Amina Al-Zoubi, head of the Jordan Women’s Union (JWU), noted that since the 1990’s there
has been a trend for Jordanian civil society to follow a human rights-based approach. She
added that some CSOs – including the JWU – have worked to analyze legislation that
discriminates against women, and have reached different suggested amendments and
campaigns to amend discriminatory laws such as certain articles in Jordanian Criminal Law and
the law preventing the children of Jordanian women from gaining citizenship.
Samar Dudin, the regional director and program manager of the Ruwad Organization, stated
that civil society organizations have worked to build bridges for youth to expand their
development and capacity, which is significant as an estimated 63% of Jordan’s population are
under 20. She presented the work of Ruwad, which aimed to raise the capacity and community
organization in underprivileged areas where the work of civil society is usually restricted to
merely charitable activities.
Nidal Mansour, the founder of the Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalism, affirmed
that civil society in Jordan is still in urgent need of more open civic space to allow it to act as a
true partner to the state. He also warned that the demonization of civil society by government-
owned mass media organizations is a concerning development, as it does not reflect the
successes of CSOs in the field of improving human rights.
Ahmad Awad, the Director of Phenix Center, stated that Jordan continues to need more CSOs,
as there are merely 6000 non-profit organizations and non-governmental associations in the
Kingdom. He pointed to the government’s undue restrictions on CSOs – such as requiring prior
approval for various activities and actions – as an obstacle to achieving more open civic space.
Overall, the participants at the Forum agreed that there is an urgent need to amend the legal
and regulatory framework governing organizations in order to reach a supportive and enhancing
environment for civil society.

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