The Women Kitchen Meeting project is an innovative approach in delivering civic education and participatory motivation to females in rural and Badia areas, and Palestinian refugee camps across Jordan. The statistical data identifying poor female candidacy in the past municipal and Parliamentary elections in these areas indicates the vital need for a new methodology in enhancing female participation in local political processes. Through the Kitchen Meetings methodology, Hayat produced an efficient and cost effective pathway; simple chit chats in rural households between local women on their political role and the current political discussions in the country, facilitated by trained female peer educators leading to national-level participation.
The methodology consists of two step, where in the first step 30 women from different areas across Jordan are engaged in a three-day workshop on electoral reform, civic engagement and peer education tools. During the second step, the same 30 women conduct 10 Kitchen Meetings each with a group of five to seven women from their direct environment, informally discussing the importance of civic engagement, political participation and the elections process. Al Hayat conducted the first round of Kitchen Meetings successfully in 2013 prior to the Municipal Elections with participation of 30 women from all over Jordan. The 30 participating women have conducted 293 kitchen meetings, in which a total of 2050 women were introduced to political activism and political participation.
As a success story from this round of Kitchen Meetings, 6 out of the 30 core group of women used the knowledge they gained and the KM sessions to run for the 2013 Municipal elections, from which 5 have won seats in the municipal. In the second round of Kitchen Meetings which took part in 2014, another 3000 women were engaged in the theme of women inclusion in the decentralization process. A case study, video and story telling were developed by the project team on this activity and its unique outcomes.
This project is component of the larger "Musharaka" program, “Affecting and Enhancing Grassroots Participation in the Political Reform Process in Jordan”. This component was financially supported by the European Union Delegation to Jordan, with a total grant of 10,000 EUR, the National Democratic Institute, NDI with a grant of 10,904 USD, and the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority, ASEZA with a grant of 3,531 USD.