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‘Gov’t committed to recommendations of women empowerment conference’

Equality cannot be realised without women’s economic independence ­­— minister

By Rana Husseini - Jan 23,2020 - Last updated at Jan 23,2020

MP Wafa Bani Mustafa speaks during the two-day Economic Empowerment of Women in Jordan Conference hosted at the Dead Sea (Petra photo)

DEAD SEA — The government on Thursday pledged to implement the recommendations of a two-day conference being held at the Dead Sea to economically empower women.

The two-day conference titled “Economic Empowerment of Women in Jordan”, gathered businesswomen, female owners of small- and medium-sized companies, policymakers and representatives from the private sector, financial service entities and civil society agencies.

“The Jordanian government, under the directives of His Majesty King Abdullah, has adopted several procedures to increase women’s participation in the labour market,” said Higher Education Minister Muhyiddine Touq, who was deputising for Prime Minister Omar Razzaz.

For that reason, Touq told the gathering, “today’s meeting is of extreme importance because it works to strengthen the partnership between the government, local NGOs and the private sector”.

“We hope that the conference will come up with practical recommendations for ways to increase women’s economic participation so the government can adopt them and draft legislation and strategies to complement the work of the participants,” Touq added.    

“Women in Jordan will not be equal to men on any level if they are not economically independent,” Minister of Political and Parliamentary Affairs Musa Maaytah told the gathering.

Maaytah stressed that the government, under the guidance of His Majesty King Abdullah, gives a high priority to women’s economic participation, as “the political will exists, but we need to work together to accomplish this goal”.

Minister of State for Media Affairs Amjad Adaileh echoed Maaytah’s pledge, telling the gathering that the government will make use of the media to promote the economic empowerment of women.

“The role of the media is very important in promoting women’s rights within societies, and will support the conference’s recommendations to translate them into decisions and legislations that will work to empower women,” Adaileh told the gathering.

 Meanwhile, MP Wafa Bani Mustafa delivered a speech on behalf of Lower House Speaker Atef Tarawneh, noting that the conference will play a “vital role” in pushing women’s economic empowerment to the top of the agenda.

“We need to face the challenges facing women and provide the proper atmosphere to help them achieve their goals; and the Lower House pledges to support the recommendations of this event and empower women in all fields,” Bani Mustafa added.

 Bani Mustafa also pointed to some “alarming figures” related to female economic participation in Jordan. 

“Women’s economic participation in the Kingdom remains very low in Jordan at around 15 per cent, compared with 56 per cent for males. There is a huge gap here,” Bani Mustafa said.

She also noted that unemployment among women stands at 27.5 per cent, while it is around 7.1 per cent for men.

Meanwhile, the Italian Ambassador to Jordan Fabio Cassese told The Jordan Times on the sidelines of the conference that gender-mainstreaming and women’s economic empowerment “has always been a priority” for the Italian government.

“We believe that strengthening the political, economic and social participation of women is one of the tools that can help to achieve sustainable development,” Cassese said.

That is why, the ambassador added, Italy hopes to support Jordan to ensure stable growth in the economy through increasing women’s participation in it.

Italian Agency for Development Cooperation (IADC) Director Michele Morana said a focus on empowering women in Jordan began seven years ago, and has expanded to include women in the Syrian refugee camps.

“We always look for new ways to support women in Jordan to ensure gender equality and mainstreaming in the Kingdom,” Morana told The Jordan Times.                     

It also aimed to enhance entrepreneurship, address challenges to the environment and requirements that women-owned businesses need to thrive and advance women’s participation in national and local value chains. 

Aside from focusing on women in the governorates, the conference will also discuss ways to create entrepreneurial opportunities for women as well as enable them to launch their own small- and medium-sized enterprises on the local and national levels.

During the second day of the conference, participants from all governorates of Jordan will develop dedicated action plans to implement women’s economic empowerment commitments at the local level.

The conference was organised by the Inter-Ministerial Committee for Women’s Empowerment in partnership with the Coalition of Women Members of Parliament from Arab Countries to Combat Violence against Women and the House of Representatives, represented by the Women Parliamentary Caucus and the Women and Family Affairs Committee. 

Held under the Prime Minister’s patronage, it received support from UN Women and the Government of Italy through the IADC. 

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