Women of Jordan!
Ever since its inception, International Women’s History Month has strived to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. It marks a clear call to action for speeding up gender parity around the world.
Even though they have often been painfully slow in coming, advancements are being made for women’s rights in Jordan, with one of the most significant achievements being last year’s abolition of the notorious Article 308 that allowed perpetrators of rape and sexual assault to avoid legal prison by marrying their victims.
Through its journalism, Venture has always aimed to promote the role of women in Jordanian society (Women of Jordan). That’s why, throughout the week, we will be highlighting some of the remarkable women in Jordan who have reached senior positions in their respective fields and are actively working to break down barriers for other women to follow their lead.
Suhair al-Ali (Women of Jordan)
Suhair al-Ali has been the Executive Chairman of the Social Security Investment Fund since 2016. She holds several directorship roles in for-profit and non-profit companies across several sectors including finance and banking, media, healthcare, human development, and leadership in Jordan
She graduated from Georgetown University with a masters degree in development economics, and has held several leadership and ministerial roles in her professional career. She served as a senator until 2011; she also served as Jordan’s Minister for Cabinet Affairs and Minister of Planning and International Cooperation in three successive cabinets in the governments of Adnan Badran, Marouf Bakhit, and Nader Dahabi.
Before her ministerial appointments, al-Ali worked hard to reach where she is today. She began her career in the United States where she served as the general manager of the Saudi American Bank in New York for four years. Speaking about her experience there in an interview with Jordan television in 2016, al-Ali said she faced two separate challenges, and they were personal. She struggled as a woman on one hand and a Muslim Arab on the other. “We always say in the Arab world that there is discrimination towards women. But my professional experience taught me that this also exists in developed countries … Women should work on developing themselves to prove that they can work in various sectors,” she said. After spending four years in her position in New York, she moved back to Jordan with Citibank.
Al-Ali currently serves as a director on a number of non-profit boards like the Al-Hussein Bin Abdullah II Technical University, the Hashemite Fund for Human Development, the King Hussein Cancer Center, the Royal Society for Fine Arts and the Global Board of Directors of the International Women’s Forum in Washington DC.
She led teams and organizations successfully in public and private sectors, receiving the King Abdullah award for Excellence for four award cycles from 2000 to 2009. She has also received several awards for her contributions to the business and civil society.
Al-Ali has served by appointment of His Majesty King Abdullah on a number of Royal initiatives including the Economic Consultative Council, Jordan First Commission, and the National Committee for Human Resource Development. In her current capacity, she serves on the Economic Policy Council.
Majd Shweikeh (Women of Jordan)
In her capacity as Minister of Information and Communications Technology since 2015, Majd Shweikeh has been instrumental in realizing the Kingdom’s ambitious efforts to digitize government services.
Last year, she announced the launch of several e-government services, including an updated version of the Jordanian Government Electronic Portal and the Bekhedmetkom (At Your Service) app where people can submit inquiries, proposals and complaints against government institutions.
In an interview with Oxford Business Group, she said the Kingdom’s most valuable asset in regards to becoming a regional hub is its high level of ICT-related human capital. “Our well-established education system graduates over 5700 students with ICT- and IT-related disciplines each year,” said Shweikeh.
She is also Minister of Public Sector Development, and previously served as vice president of Jordan Telecom Group, CEO of Orange Mobile and VTEL Holdings. She was also president of Masharek 360 Solutions and President of the International Women’s Forum, Jordan Chapter.
Shweikeh holds a first class Honors BSc in Finance in addition to several certificates including the Certified Management Accountant certification, 1999, and the Global Senior Management Certificate, 2012, from IE University and University of Chicago.
“Women, mostly, lack self-worth: they don’t know how much potential they have and the amount of change they can instill in a society if only they believed in themselves,” Shweikeh told Venture in an interview in 2012. “The sector of women entrepreneurship will flourish when women across the entire country start building self-confidence and know they have the right and ability to compete with men.”
Women of Jordan: Part One
Women of Jordan: Part Two