In Jordan, women make up approximately half of the overall population, yet they only contribute to about 15% of the labor force. Their unemployment rates are nearly 10% higher than the male unemployment rates. This is four times as high as the female unemployment rates worldwide. The number of labor force participation rates contradicts the number of educated women. In 2014, more women went to college in comparison to men. So, why do women in Jordan not work? The answers to this question have to do with women’s rights in Jordan.
Women’s Economic Contribution: What is Going On?
Regarding women’s rights in Jordan, there are many contributing factors that made the country rank 144 out of 149 countries in economic participation and opportunity. Ranging from lack of transportation to social norms, here are some reasons why women do not work as much as their male counterparts:
- Childcare: If women are at work, they must be able to find someone to look after their children. Finding childcare along with affordable childcare is a key issue. Jordan women only make around $270 USD a month. As a result, many women feel that it is easier and more affordable to stay home with their kids instead of creating an extra expense.
- Pay Gap: There is a large pay gap in Jordan. The Gender Pay Gap in the public sector is over 13%. In addition, there is a larger gap of over 15% in the private sector. With a gap like this, many women receive discouragement from working.
- Social expectations: Social norms remain a large issue when it comes to women working. When there is a shortage of jobs in the country, over 80% of people believe that men should have more rights to jobs than women. According to a World Bank study, the majority of people believe that it is not okay for women to work if they return after 5 p.m. or if they are working in mixed workplaces.
- Transportation: There is a lack of transportation, while also a lack of safe transportation for women in Jordan. This is a reason why many women reject job offers. Not only is it unsafe, but it is also just another expense added to women’s already low incomes. Combined with the daycare prices many women pay when they decide to enter the workforce, the cost of going to work is not worth it to many.
Fortunately, there is a current action plan in place that aims to solve these issues regarding women’s rights in Jordan and the country’s workforce inequality. For example, the Jordan government implemented the Women’s Economic Empowerment Action Plan and the Mashreq Gender Facility supports this plan. The overall goal of this plan is to increase women’s participation in the workforce by 24% in a span of five years. After five years, the government hopes the action plan will have increased women’s opportunity to become business owners. The plan also aims to provide safe and inclusive work environments. As a result, more women will be able to successfully join the workforce.
There is a lot that needs to occur for the action plan to be successful. As of now, the action plan is focusing on things such as legislation. It also focuses on constraints that are keeping women out of the workforce, creating a welcoming and comfortable work environment, breaking the social stigmas connected to women working and increasing the female employment rates in the private sector. Certain tasks that the action plan will accomplish in order to get to this point are:
- Improving the knowledge of gender gaps and teaching gender equality in education settings.
- Creating affordable childcare services so that women do not have to be concerned about the costs of going to work.
- Creating a code of ethics for workers in public transportation so that women are able to get to and from work without experiencing harassment.
The Women’s Economic Empowerment Action Plan has explained other actions it will take to achieve its goal as well. One can access these actions through the World Bank website to learn more. Hopefully, after the five years are up, women’s rights in Jordan will have made a significant improvement and women will be able to contribute to the economy.
– Sophie Dan