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Jordanian Women in the Shadow of a ‘Compound Pandemic’: How has COVID affected the work of Jordanian women and their safety?
19.02.2022

the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Amman, organised a conference entitled “Jordanian Women in the Shadow of a ‘Compound Pandemic’: How has COVID affected the work of Jordanian women and their safety?

At the beginning of the proceedings, Oraib Al Rantawi, director of Al-Quds Center, said that the study carried out by the center, which was to be presented during the conference, sought to measure the impact of the pandemic on working women and female employers in Jordan. He outlined that we are facing a crisis of a compound pandemic since Jordanian men and women, without discrimination, have suffered significantly as a result of the pandemic although the situation of women is more fragile in the face of the pandemic’s psychological, economic, health, social and educational consequences.

Al Rantawi added that the study focused particularly on the effects of the pandemic on female workers and employers in the private sector rather than those working in the governmental sector despite the latter including a large proportion of working women especially in the health and education sectors. This was because the conditions that women working in the governmental sector were subject to were relatively similar while there are consequences that did notaffect these workers in the public sector, such as unemployment and basic salary cuts.

On 19th February 2022, Al-Quds Center for Political Studies, in co-operationwithThe study by AQC was based on the use of a wide sample of approximately 1240 female workers and businesswomen from across the 12 governorates of Jordan, as well as on a rigorous scientific methodology. Al Rantawi invited the participants to enrich the study with their suggestions, ideas and recommendations before its publication. He indicated that AQC had held the first of the governorate workshops to discuss the results of this study in Madaba and that two further workshops will be held in the coming days, one in Irbid and the other in the southern region. Al Rantawi also stated that the pandemic represented a particular evil for working women since domestic violence against women rose by 35%, while it rose by 33% in Jordan during the first period of lockdowns and restrictions on movement and activity.

Espend Lindbæck, Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Amman, praised the carrying out of these studies by AQC that are of interest to both countries. He expressed that the pandemic had created further challenges and he praised Jordan’s efforts in facing the consequences of the pandemic despite the economic difficulties it experiences in addition to the regional conditions surrounding Jordan and the impacts of this on Jordan, namely through the welcoming of large numbers of refugees. The Ambassador explained that among the challenges of the crisis caused by the virus worldwide was that 1 in 4 working women were considering leaving the workforce or changing their careers in comparison to 1 in 5 men.

Additionally, some Norwegian women lost their jobs while others witnessed negative impacts on their salaries contributing to the creation of unequal opportunities. The Ambassador added that those most affected were female health workers, while women working in tourism, hotels and retail also suffered while the burden on women within the home also increased compared with men. He emphasised the importance of the incorporation of a gender perspective into government plans.

Speaking on behalf of the patron of the conference, Minister of Labour Mr. Nayef Istitieh, Dr. Own Al Nahar, Director of the Directorate of Employment within the Ministry of Labour, said that the world is still suffering from the challenges of the pandemic, and that at the forefront of those who have been negatively impacted are workers and employers, particularly women. He referenced the results of the studies that show that the work of women often is centred around work opportunities with low wages, in informal contexts, or within familial projects. He also mentioned statistics that indicate men were more likely to lose their jobs, with 83% of those who lost their jobs in 2020 being men in comparison to a figure of 16.9%  who were women. He outlined that the most likely to lose their jobs were those between the ages of 18-29.

Al Nahar mentioned that the COVID-19 pandemic had led to unemployment among women, particularly those working in projects led by women, since all childcare centers and retail businesses selling clothes and cosmetics were closed, in addition to the problems with the development of remote learning.

Al Nahar explained that the government took several economic decisions in order to mitigate the direct and indirect impacts of the pandemic through the defence orders, especially defence order 6. He drew attention to the sustainability programme through Social Security Corporation which benefited the private sector. He concluded by pointing to the existence of 60,000 work opportunities this year and next.

The conference was composed of two sessions. The first session was designated for the presentation of the results of the analytical survey study carried out by AQC around the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Jordanian women in the workplace. Dr. Rana Al-Akhal, economic researcher and expert on gender issues and the principal researcher of this study spoke during this session. This first session also included a contribution from Mr. Shaman Al-Majali, the media spokesperson for the Social Security Corporation responding to the question: “How has the Social Security Corporation (SSC) dealt with working women and female employers during the pandemic?”. The session was moderated by H.E. MP. Dina Al-Bashir, Member of the Legal Committee and the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives.

The second session, entitled “The Business Environment during the Pandemic” examined the expertise and role of several institutions with regards to the impact of the pandemic on working women and female employers. During this session, each of the following spoke: H.E. MP. Hussein Al Harasis, Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Labor, Social Development and Population; Ms. Dima Arabiyat, Coordinator of Economic Empowerment Program in the Jordanian National Committee for Women’s Affairs; Dr. Reem Al-Baghdadi, President of the Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women; Ms. Rana Abu Louha, women’s representative in the General Federation of Trade Unions in Jordan. The session was moderated by H.E. MP. Suleiman Abu Yahya, Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Labor and the Administrative Committee in the House of Representatives. 

Agenda:

9:30 – 10.00 Reception & Registration 

10:00 – 10:30 Opening Session:
Welcome and Opening Remarks.
• Mr. Oraib Al Rantawi
General Director of Al Quds Center for Political Studies.
• His Excellency Mr Espen Lindbæck
Ambassador of the Kingdom of Norway in Amman
• His Excellency Mr. Nayef Istitieh
The Minister of Labour

10:30 – 12:00 First Session:
Presentation of the Results of the Study on the Effect of the COVID Pandemic on Jordanian Women in the Workplace. 
Moderator:
H.E. MP. Dina Al-Bashir
Member of Parliamentary Legal Committee, and the Foreign Affairs Committee
Speakers:
Presentation of the Results of the Study on the Effect of the COVID Pandemic on Jordanian Women in the Workplace.
Dr. Rana Al-Akhal, Economic Researcher and Expert on Gender.
• How has the Social Security Corporation (SSC) Dealt with Working Women and Female Employers During the Pandemic?
Mr. Shaman Al-Majali, The Media Spokesperson for the Social Security Corporation.

Questions and Discussion

Coffee break 12:00 – 12:30

12:30- 2:30 Second Session:
The Business Environment During the Pandemic. 
Moderator:
H.E. MP Suleiman Abu Yahya
Member of the Parliamentary Committee on Labor, Social Development and Population.
Speakers:
• H.E MP Hussein Al Harasis
Chairman of the Parliamentary Committee on Labor, Social Development and Population.
• Ms. Dima Arabiyat
Coordinator of Economic Empowerment Program -Jordanian National
Committee for Women’s Affairs.
• Dr. Reem Al-Baghdadi
President of the Jordan Forum for Business and Professional Women.
• Ms. Rana Abu Louha
Chair of the Women's Committees for General Federation of Trade Unions.
Questions and discussion

Lunch 2:30