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Women’s movement hails gender sensitive amendments to Labour Law

By Rana Husseini - Feb 28,2018 - Last updated at Feb 28,2018

AMMAN — The women’s movement in Jordan on Wednesday praised several decisions by the Lower House’s Labour Committee to amend provisions in the draft Labour Law that ensured pay equity, the presence of daycare centres at workplaces and the introduction of paternity leave.

On Tuesday, the Lower House’s Labour Committee made several amendments to the draft Labour Law, which included introducing a two-day paternity leave for fathers, ensuring that workplace owners establish daycares for their employees if the total number of their children is 15 or more and introducing laws that ensure pay equity. 

“What happened on Tuesday with the Labour Committee at the Lower House was very important because it showed that there is a new approach towards working women and fathers with the amendments that included new provisions giving two-day paternity leave for fathers,” activist Noor Imam said.

She told The Jordan Times that activists who were present during the committee’s meeting “discussed with lawmakers 39 articles that the women’s movement suggested be amended or added to the draft Labour Law”, noting that MPs were “open and responsive to our comments and demands”. 

Legal adviser for the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Amal Haddadin said: “The additions and amendments were very important for women and children alike.”

“The new amendments and additions will surely work towards increasing the number of working women in the labour market and ensuring a safe environment for their children at the workplace,” Haddadin told The Jordan Times.

SADAQA executive board member Sahar Aloul welcomed the Labour Committee’s endorsement of the changes, saying that “it is a huge win for women’s equality in the labour sector, because it instilled the idea that parenthood is a shared responsibility”.

Aloul said that her organisation, SADAQA, which is part of Coalition 72 that aims to amend Article 72 of the Labour Law, recently presented amendments to the Labour Committee to make it “more comprehensive and just to working families in Jordan and not just women specifically”. 

“The amendments will ensure that working families have access to workplace daycares to encourage their participation in the labour market, especially for working mothers,” Aloul told The Jordan Times.

The new amendments “will ensure that caring for children is a shared responsibility between parents,” she added.

In order for the law to be more effective, Aloul stressed the importance of creating a “public-private partnership with the government by offering incentives to companies that create workplace daycares for their employees”. 

women’s rights activists said the next step for the women’s movement is “to lobby the Lower House’s deputies to ensure that these new recommendations pass when the draft law is discussed under the Dome to ensure gender equality in society, especially as women’s participation in the labour market is considered the lowest in the region”. 

Jordan was ranked 142 out of 144 countries in women’s labour force participation at the Gender Gap Index of the World Economic Forum 2017, pointing out that most women in the Kingdom do not enter the job market or pull out for a brief period due to the barriers posed by the lack of daycares, access to transportation and pay inequity. 

In September of last year, SADAQA released a study in which it described the unemployment rates among Jordanian women as “horrifying”, stating that around 45 per cent of women who leave the labour market in Jordan do so due to a lack of childcare while at work.

According to the International Labour Organisation, increasing women’s economic participation in Jordan, which stood at 13.3 per cent in 2015, could boost the GDP by $8 billion a year.

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