AMMAN—Few Jordanians have done more to promote women’s higher education than Lubna Akroush, a professor of sociology at the University of Jordan and president of the Association of Jordanian Women Academics.
She and her colleagues set up the association in 2014 because “we felt the injustice facing the world of women academics,” Akroush said. Their initial aim was to establish a platform to discuss challenges the women felt, to help realize their potential and to build networks.
Today, the association has 115 Ph.D.-holding members from 30 private and public universities and higher education institutions and has developed a database for Jordanian women academics with the U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI). About 500 women have taken part in workshops it organized.
“Women academics in the kingdom face difficulties in receiving promotions and scholarships, as well as occupying leadership positions in higher-education institutions, compared to their male counterparts,” Akroush said.
“In some universities, women academics cannot include their husbands on their medical insurance plans unless they prove that the husband has a handicap or is unemployed, while a male academic is allowed to insure his wives if he is married to more than one,” she added.
Another example of inequality, she said, is that, unlike male academics, women who pursue their studies abroad do not receive any financial help.
In 2017, the association published a report under the title “The Reality of Women in Academia in Jordan” based on a survey of all universities in the country. It concluded that around 60 percent of women did not have the opportunity to participate in academic committees.
“There is a lack of equal opportunities for women academics in local, private and public universities in Jordan,” Akroush said. “They work on improving themselves educationally, work for their families and students, and all they need is justice.”