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Childcare can boost women’s economic participation in Jordan — World Bank

By Rana Tayseer - Feb 26,2024 - Last updated at Feb 26,2024

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AMMAN — A recent World Bank report has sparked a call to action among experts in Jordan and the Mashreq region. The report highlights the crucial role of childcare in encouraging more women to join the labour market, emphasising the need for an increased number of workplace nurseries. 

The World Bank report underscored that women, both in the Middle East and globally, are primary caregivers for their families, adding that this responsibility often limits their economic participation due to the scarcity of reasonably priced nurseries.

The report also highlighted that less than 15 per cent of women in the Mashreq countries, including Iraq and Jordan, are either employed or actively seeking work, which is one of the lowest rates of female labour force participation in the world.

It also said that formal childcare services in Jordan are utilised by a mere 2.3 per cent of children aged between 0-5 years, as over half of the mothers rely on family and friends for childcare support.

The report further states that 94 per cent of women in the Middle East and North Africa region have been prevented from working due to family responsibilities. It also identified childcare as the most significant barrier to women’s participation in the labour market and calls for solutions to incentivise and support childcare provision.

Economist Wajdi Makhamreh told The Jordan Times on Sunday, “Many working mothers leave their jobs to care for their children. Therefore, increasing nurseries for children in the workplace will clearly encourage mothers to search for job opportunities.” He added that more efforts are needed so that mothers can be with their children and work simultaneously.

Dima Nazzal, a professor at a private university in Amman and a mother of two children aged 3 and 5, told The Jordan Times that she places her children in a nursery at her workplace, which she says has encouraged her to continue her profession. “I can work and I am reassured about my children because they are by my side. I can see them in my free time at work. This helped me practice my profession and work at it instead of placing them in nurseries far from my work where the cost is high,” she said.

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