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On 8 March 2017, the ACHRS International Relations Committee participated in the Women’s Economic Empowerment Conference at the Royal Hotel Amman in celebration of International Women’s Day and the 25th anniversary of the establishment of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW).

The conference followed the theme of ‘women’s economic participation in the changing world of work’.  Various experts shared their thoughts and knowledge on the topic through three panel discussions.

The first panel provided an overview of the status of women within the Jordanian economy.  H.E. Dr. Sawsan Majali highlighted the challenges faced by women who are entering or part of the labour force. These include inequality of income and opportunity; the absence of legislation to combat workplace harassment; employer’s beliefs that women are less valuable because they may take maternity and carers leave and women’s lack of access to their own financial resources, to social networks and to transportation. H.E. Nadia al Saeed, of Etihad Bank, and H.E. Hamada abu Nijmeh, Minister of Labour, discussed how the private sector and government could respond to these issues respectively.

The second panel examined legislation, policy and planning. Mrs. Kholoud Saqqaf spoke about Jordanian macro economic policies. Mr. Omar Atout identified inequalities in investment law, tax law and labour law. Dr. Salma Nims of the JNCW discussed opportunities for women’s empowerment through the Executive Development Program and gender responsive budgeting.

The last panel discussed ideological, social and cultural aspect of women’s participation in the workforce. Mr. Rani Khoury presented the results of a study investigating traditional gender roles within Jordanian society that concluded that the main reason most women do not go to work is because of the responsibilities of marriage. H.E. Dr. Nawal Faouri discussed religious factors affecting women’s participation in the workforce. Dr. Wafa al Khadra focused on the role of the education system in enhancing concepts of an inclusive and productive economy. Finally, Mrs. Lina Eijeilat looked at the role of social media in shaping social attitudes.

While the conference highlighted that Jordanian women still face many challenges in relation to work, ACHRS was pleased to participate in a positive and solution orientated discussion about women’s participation in the workforce. The right to work is an important human right for both individuals and communities. It is linked to personal identity and dignity, and it is also through work that women can contribute economically, socially and culturally to their communities, allowing them to flourish.  ACHRS also recognises the challenges women face in entering and participating in the workforce and contributes to women’s empowerment through initiatives such as the Jordanian Institute for Women’s Leadership Program. The Program started in 2010 and has since graduated 105 women: 64 from Jordan and 41 from Syria, Iraq, Libya, Yemen and Sudan. 

Prepared by Kimberley Malone, International Relations Unit, Amman Center for Human Rights Studies. (ACHRS)