One of these parliamentarians, Mohammad Al Fayez, said the proposed changes were ultimately “against morality and motherhood”.
The parliamentary debates were interrupted after several lawmakers started shouting at lawmaker Abdulmunim Oddat, who tried to defend the amendment by arguing that it did not add any new provisions to the constitution and was only intended to create “the ‘linguistic equality’.
Reem Abu Hassan, a lawyer who served on a royal committee charged with modernizing the constitution, told CNN that the language of the current constitution reflects the standards of written Arabic in the 1950s, when groups of people were designated by masculine terms.
“We thought it was time for the country’s constitution to make reference to a woman in a very clear way,” she said.
Abu Hassan explained that while some lawmakers are concerned that the amendment overrides the terms of the inheritance or citizenship law, the main purpose of the amendment is to ensure that women play a more active role in the public life.
Inheritance laws in the country, which are based on Sharia, often see a man’s share double that of a woman.
Gender equality is a controversial topic among social conservatives in Jordan, who have long resisted granting equal rights to women.
Salma Nims, secretary general of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, told CNN that far-right and Islamic movements in Jordan equate the struggle for women’s equality with a stain on women’s morality and open the door to new freedoms.
“For them, women’s equality means that women will be able to enjoy freedom over their bodies, and that changes the morality of society and the unity of the family,” Nims said.
“Every time the women’s movement gets closer to achieving something, closer to living with dignity in this country, there is a fear coming from the patriarchal system that it means a change in power relations within society,” she said.