2017-22: Change of family law in Jordan

JWU and legal reform: Facts about the project

Local partner: Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU).

Country: Jordan.

Thematic area: Legislative reform enhanced through partnerships to recognise equality between men and women including distribution of resources.

The project aims to draft a civil-based Family Status Law, also called Personal Status Act. Afterwards it will be presented to relevant decision making bodies in Jordan: the parliament, government and municipalities.

The project is called ‘The legislative reform of the personal status act’. It is elaborated by KVINFOs partner the Jordanian Women’s Union (JWU). And the final goal is to get a new family law in Jordan.


The structure of the Family Law in Jordan is discriminatory against women and affects their rights within society. Among many things the Family Law for instance means that a woman must have a male guardian until she is 30. Boys are independent when they turn 18 years old. Furthermore it also affects the girls’ opportunities to inherit – she is allowed, but only around the half of a male in the same position as she is.

Dansk-Arabisk Partnerskabsprogram

KVINFOs program i Mellemøsten og Nordafrika er støttet af Udenrigsministeriets Dansk-Arabisk Partnerskabsprogram, DAPP.

Læs mere om DAPP på dette link.

In all, the family law is based on Islamic law – sharia – rather than on civil law foundations. This common source of jurisprudence is therefore reflected in and reinforced by the sociocultural tenets of the country that render the family law a crucial turning point for society.

Moreover, the inequality of women in society very often leads to cultural and structural violence. For example early marriages that are a result of violent socio-cultural pressure.

A challenge is to always in the process clarify that having civil laws does not mean an attack on Islamic values. This is also why the strategy is sought to be a gradual change instead of shocking demands or campaigns that may face huge public rejection.

This is why JWU work on changing public perspectives alongside the legislative reforms. They have worked on reforming the Family Law since 1996, and believe that the public is today accepting terms of civil laws and civil values to an extent that has not been the case earlier. This is also a result of JWU working in all 12 districts of the country; both in urban and rural areas.

About JWU

KVINFO has supported JWU (Jordanian Women’s Union) since 2008. Currently, through partnerships we work on: legislative reform, gender based violence, equal political participation and sexual and reproductive health and rights.

JWU is a membership organisation founded in 1945. It is built on secular and feminist principles, and has a clear mission to combat the discriminating, dominant, patriarchal culture and promote women’s rights, human rights and democratic participation in Jordan and the Arab world.

Read more about JWU.

Project activities: Reform of the Family Law

From the above perspectives on the Family Law, JWU is working on three activities that are set out to reform the Family Law in Jordan.

The three steps are:

  •  Drafting of a law text: The JWU legal committee will prepare a draft of the Family Law after a hearing process.
  • Advocacy on the draft of the law text: After making the draft for the law, JWU is advocating the draft to parliament and government bodies to engage them in lobby activities for the law.
  •  Capacity building and awareness raising: In municipalities in Jordan’s 12 governorates JWU work with capacity building and raising awareness of civil based laws and values especially regarding Family Law – and how the Family Law could work in the future – drawing on the draft text.

This is for instance seen with a specific example of the Legal Literacy Courses (LLC) that JWU is arranging for women.

Municipalities could be a major player in changing the mentality and social norms in society, to stress this role, the municipal councils are for instance trained on human rights conventions especially CEDAW and the civil values.