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Business leaders call for enhancing women’s economic participation

By Suzanna Goussous - Nov 16,2015 - Last updated at Nov 16,2015

Labour Minister Nidal Katamine speaks at a ceremony to launch a gender diversity competition in Amman earlier this month (Photo by Suzanna Goussous)

AMMAN — The average rate of women’s participation in the economy amounts to only 14 per cent, with increases registered in the badia, governorates and rural areas, according to Labour Minister Nidal Katamine.

He made the remarks at a ceremony to launch the “Gender Diversity Competition” organised recently in Amman by the Young Entrepreneurs Association (YEA) in partnership with the Economic Integration of Women in the MENA Region Programme (EconoWin) and the German Development Cooperation (GIZ) to promote women’s involvement in economy.

The minister said almost 22 per cent of women in Karak participate in the economy, the highest ratio across the Kingdom, while the lowest is in Zarqa (7 per cent) although more than 50 per cent of university students are women.

Women are best represented in the health and education sectors, he added. 

The number of job opportunities for women is only about one quarter of the number of jobs for men in Jordan because the working hours and environment suit men better, according to Katamine.

Noting that the ministry has made efforts to increase opportunities for women, he cited Article 72 of the Labour Law, which now states that both private and public sector workplaces should have crèches.

“The ministry’s statistics show that we need to double all the efforts, such as promoting self-employment, [which initially] amounted to 13 per cent and is now 68 per cent,” Katamine said at the ceremony, held earlier this month.

“Jordan has always been an advanced and developed country, even during the era of the five empires and Transjordan… but when it comes to women in the economy — it gets worse,” he added.

Lina Hindeleh, YEA chairperson, said there is a direct correlation between the success of a company and the presence of women in senior positions.

“A board that includes women comes up with more creative ideas than an all-men board,” she said.

For her part, GIZ Country Director Michaela Baur emphasised the importance of sharing household duties between men and women. 

“One thing is clear; gender diversity can remarkably contribute to the development of the economy and society, but it doesn’t come automatically — effort is needed,” she said.

“Every single success in women’s participation was due to the fact that women more and more insisted on their right to make their own decisions. Luckily, there were always men who supported the idea of women’s empowerment as well,” Baur added.

Participants at the meeting stressed the need to include more examples of leading women in the school curriculum to change mindsets towards women in business, calling for promoting women’s participation outside “typical” sectors such as health and education. Reem Badran, Amman Chamber of Commerce board member and chairperson of the board of directors at the National Microfinance Bank, said the public is “not doing enough to promote gender diversity”. 

However, she saw cause for optimism in the fact that Jordan, as a relatively small country, was nimble enough to change the status quo.

“Jordan is a small country, which is a positive, because there can be a quick way to improve the situation and to provide more women with jobs,” Badran added.

The competition invites private sector companies to apply with an idea for a corporate gender diversity project. 

A committee of experts will select eight winners that will be technically and financially supported. Professionally trained local consultants will be at their side throughout the implementation of their gender diversity project, according to the YEA website.

The deadline to apply is November 30.


Further information is available on the YEA website (

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