Human Rights Award, 2017
“Every day, more women reach out for support. They become part of our community and they support each other.”
Nadia Bushnaq envisioned a place where women could find support to overcome any barrier to equality, freedom and justice. When she built the Family Guidance and Awareness Center (FGAC) 20 years ago, she didn’ t know how critical her services would become. Nadia’ s center is located in Zarqa, Jordan. It’ s been a lifeline for women and families fleeing violent conflict in bordering Syria, Iraq and Palestine.
“Here on the ground, we can see what’ s needed most,” said Nadia. As executive director of FGAC, she spends her day adapting to changing conditions and meeting urgent needs. Domestic violence, access to justice and an unprecedented refugee crisis are her highest priorities.
Since 2011, more than 1.3 million Syrian refugees have crossed into Jordan. Nadia says that finding safety marks the beginning of a daunting new struggle – one she’ s determined to ease.
Together with a staff of trained counselors, Nadia provides legal assistance, psychosocial support and vocational training to refugee families. Every service is free of charge. Because of Nadia’ s leadership, FGAC has become one of the most active and effective organizations in the region, equipping women with the resources they need to find peace and rebuild.
In times of conflict and instability, domestic violence rises sharply. Nadia meets with survivors every day. In 2012, she partnered with Vital Voices to establish Jordan’ s first Family Justice Center. The co-located center provides integrated services to women and their families, who now have access to legal representation, police officers, psychologists and medical care under one roof.
Whenever new problems arise, Nadia finds answers. She perseveres. It was her father’ s vision for Jordan that inspired Nadia to become a public servant. When she was a girl, he helped establish Jordan’ s Ministry for Social Development. He instilled his passion for social work in his daughter, who served as a Senator and was one of the first women in Jordan to run for parliament.
Life in Zarqa looks very different today than it did 20 years ago, when Nadia opened FGAC. But her motivation remains the same: to make women’ s full and equal participation possible in every sphere of life. Nadia believes that women are the backbone of social progress. She says that now, more than ever, women are essential to building a more peaceful, inclusive future.