Discussing gender equality in Jordan can lead to difficult conversations, as Balqees Shahin, a volunteer for the UN
Women gender equality campaign HeforShe
, has discovered. Marking International Day of The Girl
Child on Monday, Ms. Shahin told UN News that online games can help young people to address gender issues.
“I was brought up by a single mother, who lost her husband when she was just 28, and raised four children on her own, as
well as managing to study, earn a university degree, work, and raise us well! She also faced a lot of discrimination and
My mother inspired me to depend on myself, and I have been studying, working and volunteering since I was 17. I earned
three scholarships, and was able to qualify as a nutritionist and receive a master’s degree in public health.
For more than three years, I have been volunteering in health systems, communication, youth engagement, and gender
equality, both for the UN and for other organizations in Jordan. I have been able to support myself 100 per cent.
Growing up in a family that supports women was a significant asset to my ambition of becoming a gender equality advocate
in Jordan, and especially when we launched the WeRise
campaign. It meant that it was easier for me to express my opinions and beliefs, regardless of the amount of hatred I
received from those in my surrounding environment (especially men).
Volunteering for HeForShe has changed my life, and opened up a world of opportunities. It helped me to secure the
scholarship to do my masters degree in public health, and to get a six-month internship at the UN Women
In this region, it is difficult to discuss gender equality, or any topic that contradicts people's beliefs. But with
consistency and passion, a person can achieve whatever they desire, no matter how difficult it is.Facing down barriers
Making gender equality appealing is not an easy process. We have faced many barriers, not only from older adults, but
also from peers in our own age group, especially during the HeForShe university tours. We visited all of the
universities in Jordan, but we were met with many judgemental rejections even hate. On the other hand, we won a great
deal of supporters.
The WeRise project started when I was doing my internship at the UN, and I took part in the planning and launching
process. My team members and I were asking ourselves what it would be like if we introduced gender equality in all
aspects of our lives. We came up with the idea of a platform with a gaming element, that encourages players to discuss
different topics related to gender equality and women’s empowerment.
The whole initiative was created in Jordan, by young volunteers. This is much more than a game; it is a game with a
purpose. We want to make it bigger and available for everyone to allow younger generations to interact with the
principles of gender equality through gaming. So…let’s rise!”WeRiseWeRise can be downloaded on the Apple Store here
, and for Android here
.The app was created in partnership with UN Women
and with the support of the Kingdom of the NetherlandsA key feature of the app is the ‘WeRise’ community, a dedicated space within the game that encourages players to discuss
different topics related to gender equality and women’s empowerment with the help of prompts, such as podcasts,
competitions, news, articles, and other learning resources.The app also includes an event section, promoting initiatives targeting youth organized both at the national and
international level. Following two successful university tours, the HeforShe movement will start using the app in a
series of virtual open days organized in partnership with Jordanian schools.