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jordan women streetart politics transport development
Amman in Jordan will be hosting the 7th edition of the Baladk Festival from 26 April to 3 May. The event offers a unique opportunity for artists to raise awareness in Jordan’s capital of the harassment women experience in public transport.

In the streets of Amman, there are some surprises in the works for the capital’s residents as the city prepares to host the Baladk Festival. Since 2013, this street art festival, organised by the Al Balad Theatre, has sought to empower citizens and boost artistic expression, specifically through street art and graffiti.

As in previous years, six international and ten local artists have been invited to take over the urban space by creating murals throughout the capital. The participants have only one restriction: their work must relate to a theme that changes each year. In 2018, the theme was “People/ Humans” and the vast murals created by the 16 were all equally astonishing.

Greater visibility for the empowerment of women

For this new edition, the theme is “Inclusion”. The guest artists have been given the challenge of bringing to life the sensitive and urgent issues of gender and the empowerment of women. These two themes go hand-in-hand with the recent international campaign to eliminate violence against women and the “16 days of activism against gender-based violence”, launched in Jordan by the WHO and partner NGOs (UNWOMEN, UNHCR, UNFPA, UNICEF), with support from the Jordanian government.

After partnering with the previous edition, Agence Française de Développement (AFD) has decided to renew its support for the festival by helping to finance the creation of a mural by French artist Dire 132 (his real name is Bruno Frédal), in collaboration with French-Jordanian artist Ibrahim Tonnerieux. The two taggers chose to focus their work on an essential theme: access to mobility for women in Jordan.  

Raising awareness of harassment in public transport

With an AFD employee in Amman, Yara Karadsheh, as their model, their work represents a proud and independent Jordanian woman making her way freely through public transport. Their goal is to raise awareness among the urban population of harassment in public transport, while promoting women’s access to public transport as an essential means of empowering them and giving them access to employment. This is a major issue in Jordan, where the rate of working women has not exceeded 18% for the past decade.

Baladk festival, Amman
Mural created by artist Lucie Legrand during the festival in 2018 © AFD

The lack of efficient, frequent, reliable, safe and accessible public transport is a major obstacle preventing women from entering the labour market,” explains Antoine Simon, in charge of urban projects at the AFD agency in Amman. In fact, according to a study published in 2019, 47% of Jordanian women have already been denied employment due to transport issues.

In addition to the mural that will be admired by local residents and passengers on the city’s bus rapid transit (BRT), the artist Surati will organise two workshop days, one with young people and another with the other artists at the festival. They will be invited to work collectively on the theme of a futuristic inclusive city and even produce a colouring book featuring the best sketches.

Further reading: 

Jordan: Water to Smooth Relations between Locals and Refugees

Turkey at the Factory of Gender Equality