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TUESDAY, MARCH 8, 2011, 01:12 PM

A Century of Giving Back

Her face has been kissed by Time. Every crease and line around her eyes records a moment in her life, like the delicate rings in a tree trunk. Etched into her beautiful brown skin, more than one of these proud wrinkles symbolizes the many hardships she has endured over the years. Alone, her seven grown children (one for each day of the week) visit to keep her company and seek her counsel. With what little she has, she still gives what she can: wisdom, compassion, and a modest meal. She is Um Fawaz, from a small village in northern Jordan.
 
Up in the mountains, several towns over and a generation apart, lives Shifa’a. She sold her only piece of jewellery, her wedding ring, so her husband could go to university and become a teacher, so in turn he could provide their children with a better life. But she didn’t stop there. Shifa’a tapped into her entrepreneurial spirit, applied for a loan, and opened the first mini-market in her town. “I don’t regret the hard work or selling my gold ring,” she says, glancing at her hand. “What matters is today our family stands stronger”.
 
For me, both these women represent the best of International Women’s Day (IWD). Over the course of a century, IWD has inspired women to break barriers and redefine roles. But the eighth day of March has always been about more than giving women equal rights. It has also been a story of women giving back.
 
Across Jordan, and the world, women are giving: to their families, communities, and countries.  A woman caring for her children; a woman striving to excel in the private sector; a woman partnering with her neighbours to make their street safer; a woman running for office to improve her country – they all have something to offer, and the more our societies empower women, the more we receive in return. 
 
The late King Hussein of Jordan, my husband’s father, a traditional man himself, recognized the power and promise of his countrywomen. He encouraged them to take on typically male jobs, whether it was running a business or racing a car. We saw many courageous breakthroughs, like in aviation, where Royal Jordanian became the first airline in the Middle East to employ a female pilot. His Majesty King Abdullah II continues this drive towards diversity because he knows that Jordan’s greatest resource is its people – all its people.
 
I am proud of Jordan’s women. They are our entrepreneurs and CEOS, our district attorneys and judges, our parliamentarians, ministers, and ambassadors. From the boardroom to the courtroom, the operating theatre to the lecture theatre, Jordan’s women are chalking up accomplishments great and small.
 
Jordan and my region, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has made remarkable progress in reducing gender gaps in human development.  Several countries in the region have achieved gender parity in primary and secondary education, and others are making good progress.  Fertility rates have decreased in the past decade. 
 
In Jordan, and most Arab countries, we have more girls in universities than boys. Maternal mortality in my country is around half the global average. Nearly a third of our most profitable entrepreneurs are women in small and large businesses.  And in Jordan’s elections last year, 17% of candidates were women.
 
But I am also a realist, and I know that while many women like Shifa’a give back, many, many more are held back by institutional, economic, cultural, and legislative hurdles.
 
So, as the chorus for reform rings out in Jordan, and elsewhere in the Arab world, let’s seize this opportunity for women, tune into their voices, and heed their calls.
 
 And let’s remember...we are where we are today because of women. We are what we are because of them, too. And we can only realize our potential when we realize theirs.

Posted on The Huffington Post
 

Comments (20)
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123hh
Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Hello dear Queen Rania,
my name is Hristian Kunchev.I am art painter.Please look my art pictures !!!
Here I am again. Still painting. Because it is through my paintings that I express myself. Through the media of an art deviating from its essence, I am trying to reveal the world I live in. If you believe I will not waste your valuable time, out of courtesy or curiosity, and some out of pity, perhaps, I simply invite you to have a look at my latest attempts in this pursuit. Take a look at my world! For 12 years now I have been waiting for someone to see me! In vain so far, but I am still waiting.
Thank you!!!
kunchev.net

ahmad omar
Sunday, September 25, 2011

Dear Majesty Queen Rania,
Just want to say that I greatly admire what you do for the children to give them a better education.
Thank you.

Ahmad Omar
INJAZ - Higher Education Coordinator

WalidKalaji
Saturday, September 3, 2011

Your Majesty,

At a time when women are succeeding in gaining some measure of recognition in our country, yet we are constantly experiencing some bigoted attempts to put women down.
Last week, a government appointed adhoc committee decided to suspend The Star English Weekly newspaper, whose chief editor is a woman. The Star has always been a keen follower of the Madrasati Initiative, Al-Amal Fund, Jordan River Foundation and all other charitable programs that aim to improve and develop the Jordanian society.
Your majesty, underneath is the link to the last editorial which The Star' chief editor, Mrs Maha Al-sharif, wrote.
Your Majesty, with you support, the decision could be reversed.

mirana15182
Tuesday, August 2, 2011

100% positive.................

helpthacause
Friday, July 22, 2011

Yes, I agree. She is so pretty and her age is not even showing. Plus, for what she is doing for her country is a really brave thing to do.

NHWoman
Saturday, June 11, 2011

These women are inspirational, and so are you and your work. I am a high school social studies teacher and I have a women's studies group that meets once a week after school. Next year the members really want to focus on women internationally and what they can do to help women in nations with less education and less opportunity. I told the girls that we would start by looking at women like you who are making a difference every day.

Ruby

hovercraftm
Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yes 100% positive that Her face has been kissed by Time
Dr.Ahmed Diab

Denise Bomfim
Sunday, May 15, 2011

Salam, Your Highness Queen Rania,
I will always be a fan of yours. Thanks God for your existence. I am proud to be a woman as you, modern, happy and we know that education is a mean of liberty and union. I am a teacher and writer in my country and I believe that when we know a different culture, a different religion or a different way of life and we understand it, so peace is possible. Visit my blog: http://denisebomfim.blogspot.com
Best Wishes!

valkarth
Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Hello Your Highness Queen Rania:
I am completing a Master's Degree in Canada at the University of Calgary. I am also retiring as a school teacher after 30 years of work in the profession.
Recently, I obtained expression of interest in education of Canada's native people from the Government. If all goes well I may be able to offer you a specially made "I-Pad" type of device that uses pictures and symbols to teach languages and educate young children as well as immigrant adults.
I would like to recommend itzabitza.com as an excellent website, they are helping me in this matter and although it is in the early stages, the site is ready for use.
I hope that this will help and will contact you again when the project is underway.
Sincerely
Bill