US embassy cable - 03AMMAN673

THE VIEW OF A POTENTIAL FEMALE CANDIDATE FOR PARLIAMENT

Identifier: 03AMMAN673
Wikileaks: View 03AMMAN673 at Wikileaks.org
Origin: Embassy Amman
Created: 2003-02-02 04:58:00
Classification: CONFIDENTIAL//NOFORN
Tags: PGOV PREL PHUM SOCI JO
Redacted: This cable was not redacted by Wikileaks.
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 AMMAN 000673 
 
SIPDIS 
 
NOFORN 
 
G/IWI FOR APRIL PALMERLEE 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/26/2013 
TAGS: PGOV, PREL, PHUM, SOCI, JO 
SUBJECT: THE VIEW OF A POTENTIAL FEMALE CANDIDATE FOR 
PARLIAMENT 
 
REF: AMMAN 03620 
 
Classified By: AMBASSADOR EDWARD W. GNEHM.  REASONS: 1.5 (B) and (D). 
 
1.  (C) SUMMARY.  On January 21, PolOff met with Nadia Alool, 
a long-time human rights contact who is contemplating a bid 
for a parliamentary seat in the forthcoming elections 
scheduled for this summer.  Alool attended Post's political 
campaign workshop in January.  She "is about 65 percent 
certain" she will run in the candidate-heavy third district, 
and plans to campaign on an agenda of educational reform, 
providing services for the district's constituents and her 
ability, as a woman, to represent Jordan to "the outside 
world."  Alool discussed the challenges for women in the 
upcoming elections, and echoed the popular prediction that 
the Muslim Brotherhood will likely be able to field a large 
number of "electable" female candidates.  Notwithstanding, 
she is up for the challenge.  "Let's face it: Nothing like 
this comes easy."  END SUMMARY. 
 
---------- 
BACKGROUND 
---------- 
 
2.  (SBU)  Nadia Alool is a long-time human rights and public 
affairs contact.  In 1999, she visited the U.S. on Post's 
"Women and the Enhancement of Democratic Values" program.  In 
early January, she attended a three-day workshop run by 
Post's PD Section, "How to Run a Political Campaign", 
designed for female candidates.  Alool has been involved with 
various human rights activities for years and is on the 
executive committee for the National Society for Enhancement 
of Democracy.  She frequently travels to Europe for human 
rights conferences (usually focusing on women's issues).  In 
addition, Alool writes regularly for the Arabic daily "al 
Ra-i".  Alool is charismatic, confident and has the family 
financial backing to successfully campaign for a 
parliamentary seat here. 
 
------------------- 
"SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT 
CERTAIN I WILL RUN" 
------------------- 
 
3.  (C)  On January 21, PolOff met with Alool at her family's 
concrete company office.  She was thankful for the recent 
workshop, although she noted that more than a few men also 
could have benefited from the workshop.  Alool said that, 
generally, she is against the idea of a quota for women, but 
agrees with the idea of having one for two terms.  "For now, 
the reality for female candidates is that the door is ajar, 
but not fully open.  We need a little boost." 
 
4.  (C)  Alool is "sixty-five percent certain" she will run, 
noting that she will have to put up approximately 30,000 JD 
to run for a seat in Amman's third district, which will be 
heavily contested with a field likely to include several 
candidates, both women and men (the district stretches from 
working-class downtown to wealthy West Amman).  Alool's 
campaign strategy is not complete, and will depend on whether 
the quota framework reserving seats for women (septel) will 
allow her to run from the third district or require her to 
run for an "at-large" seat.  She says she will campaign on 
raising general awareness of the need for better education 
and providing better government services.  She also stressed 
the need for Jordanians to think critically about matters 
that are affecting their daily lives.  "For example, we need 
to ask men why they are keeping their women from working 
while their children are hungry.  Why don't they allow their 
women to work if they are poor?  We need to think about 
this." 
 
5.  (C)  On Iraq and the West Bank, Alool says it is time to 
search for peaceful solutions.  "We tried war here (in the 
region), now let's try peace."  Interest in the plight of the 
Iraqi people aside, Alool does not believe Jordanians will 
take to the street in overwhelming masses or exhibit their 
frustrations toward U.S. policy with drastic measures. 
"People just want it to be quick and over with soon," she 
said. 
 
--------------------------------- 
UNCERTAIN ELECTION RULES, CERTAIN 
INTERNATIONAL ATTENTION 
--------------------------------- 
 
6.  (C)  Alool is waiting to see how the eight seats reserved 
for women will be allocated, i.e. whether the top female 
vote-getters will win, or whether there will some sort of 
districting.  In any case, Alool noted that any woman elected 
to parliament will have to face the international media. 
"We'll be speaking, and acting, in front of an international 
audience, since we'll be making history here."  Alool is 
confident that this will help her, as she speaks several 
languages and is comfortable in front of international 
audiences. 
 
---------------------- 
FINDING A CONSTITUENCY 
---------------------- 
 
7.  (C)  Despite Alool's confidence in herself, she believes 
(along with many other contacts) that it will be difficult to 
enlist women to vote for a female candidate.  She said that 
men often tell their wives for whom they must vote, and a lot 
of women don't have an independent knowledge of issues or 
candidates yet.  As for men, it will be hard to convince them 
that a woman can deliver services and otherwise represent the 
district in a traditionally patriarchal, tribal system. 
Efficient women can compete with or without a quota, she 
said, but the problem is finding a constituency or a district 
where a woman can convince people to vote for her.  Note: 
Alool wasn't sure if Toujan Faisal would be able to run again 
in light of her conviction (reftel), but was fairly certain 
that Faisal would try, would indeed have a strong following, 
and would likely run in the third district.  Other contacts 
share this view.  End note. 
 
 
8.  (C) COMMENT.  We believe that Alool is representative of 
a small but growing group of educated and worldly women brave 
enough to take a chance at a parliamentary campaign who also 
enjoy familial and financial support.  In the face of the 
well-organized opposition parties here, it will likely be 
tough going for these women.  The popular prediction (also 
held by Alool) is that the Islamic Action Front, if it 
participates, will win most of the seats reserved for women 
with a slew of "electable" female candidates.  Still, Alool 
believes that her candidacy is probably worth a shot.  "Let's 
face it: Nothing like this comes easy," she said.  We will 
report in depth on the quota for women septel. 
 
 
GNEHM 

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