Suzan after 14 years of getting a master's degree in international political economy finally managed after much effort to join the labor market; she has been selected according to the instructions determined by the Civil Service Commission for governmental jobs recruitment.
Moving from one job to another in the hope of stability, Suzan spent several unsuccessful attempts, due to significant challenges, which prevented her from achieving her ambition dreamt off while still at school to be one of the decision makers.
Susan is not the only girl who excelled in the academic education, before getting the opportunity to be involved in the labor market, where the total number of females who graduated in 2013 - 2014, reached 31.253, out of 57.046 male graduates, according to the Ministry of Higher Education statistics.
However, the Department of Statistics shows that the unemployment rate for holders of bachelor's degree is higher in the first quarter of this year, reaching 27.2% among females, versus 18.7% for males.
Numbers also indicate disparity of unemployment rates among females compared to males during the first quarter of this year, as the unemployment rate among females was double the males’ rate, which is 22.1% for females and 11% for males.
Weakness in Economic Participation
The periodic report of the National Council for Family Affairs, released recently, shows that Jordan continues to experiencing weakness in economic participation. Statistics indicate that 71% of households p
refer that women work, but compared with the true state of fact, 10% of all families have a working woman out of them.
As indicated by the latest figures, Salma Annimis, Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women, considers this year the most in the drop of women participation rates in the labor market compared to previous years.
Salma attributes the reasons for this drop to the events and political changes in the region, which reflected on the economic sphere in the Kingdom, noting that the woman is the most affected during these circumstances, due to her exclusion from the development policies priorities which limit her from being involved in the labor market, in contrast to male.
"Keeping the policy without a radical change in the stereotype mentality of the economic policies makers, from defining the role of women in the development process, as being an essential and important player, will inevitably impede her career," says Annimis.
Private Sector Suffering of Crisis
Director of Phoenix for Economic & Informatics studies, Ahmad Awad, believes that the private sector has been suffering from major economic problems; it has led to a decline in economic growth, and its inability to generate employment opportunities for females, although this sector gathers the largest proportion of female workers.
The employment opportunities in the public sector and the major companies have become limited as they do not need employees, forcing many to go to work in small and medium enterprises and in the informal sector, which suffers from poor provision of suitable working environment, according to Awad.
A recent study issued by the Department of Statistics indicates a significant decline in numbers of jobs generated by the Jordan’s economy market, amounting about 50 thousand per year, which is less than half the number of graduates.
Women’s participation rate economically dropped during the first quarter of this year representing 12.5% compared to 14.9% in 2011.
Wrong Choices of Specialization in the Labor Market
One of the obstacles that lead to poor participation of women economically is the lack of harmonization between the educational system outputs and the labor market requirements, as the female choices for their specialization do not meet the specialization and skills required in this market, according to the expert in education Dr. Atef Alchaouachra.
Alchaouachra indicates that most females tend to turn to humanitarian studies, which are consummated by the local labor market, contrary to the availability of job opportunities in the field of professional, artistic and technical specialization.
Secretary-General of the National Council for Family Affairs, Salma Annaimis, sees that almost 70% of female workers in the public sector are in the teaching and health sectors, despite that their major is different; she believes that women continue to see that these two sectors are the ones available to them in the labor market.
Additional obstacles limiting women's work
Women's rights economists and activists, believes that there are a number of obstacles that limit the participation of women in the labor market, notably the lack of work flexibility, such as social responsibilities and conditions placed upon their shoulders to be taken into consideration, which forces them to stay at home.
Safe and convenient transportation is not provided, to ensure her transportation to her workplace at the lowest cost, because the majority of female workers get a minimum wage salary ranging from JD250 to JD300, which forces them to pay a large portion of their income on transportation, so they prefer to stay at home instead of working.
The lack of nurseries or daycares in the workplace is an issue despite the legal provisions which require the establishment of nurseries; the Ministry of Labor affirms that it monitors its implementation in the organizations.
Article (72) of the Labor Law states that “The Employer who employs a minimum of twenty female married Employees should provide a suitable place under the custody of a qualified governs to care for the Employees children of less than four years of age provided that the number is not less than ten children.”
The last periodic report of the National Council for Family Affairs shows that 10.3% of children are enrolled in daycares, while 83.2% of mothers are taking care of children at home because they are not employed.
Also, 70% of households prefer their children to be taken care of by one of the first-degree relative, 33% prefer the home nursery, while official nurseries or nurseries at the workplace come last.
Another challenge facing women is that they are not covered by the Social Security, as the number of female covered by the Social Security is 275 000, compared to 781 000 for males.
Some female workers are also exposed to many types of exploitation, such as the discrepancy of wages between male and female especially in the private sector and the discrimination which makes the workplace a "repulsive" and unsuitable environment for women.
Transgressions to Labor Law
The reasons behind such behaviors which lead women to abstain from work, according to director of Phoenix for Economic & Informatics studies Ahmad Awad, are related to the transgression of the Law committed by some employers, plus the inability of the Ministry of Labor to monitor the labor market in detail.
Shobaki adds that the draft labor law includes amendments to some articles that contribute to strengthening women's participation in the labor market, such as adding texts requiring the employer to give men and women equal salaries, in addition to the amendment of Article (72) so that it obliges any institution to establish nurseries, without specifying the number of female workers, contrary to the current text which requires a number of twenty female workers.
Solutions to activating the participation of women in the labor market
Annimis believes that Jordan is in need to carry out a study showing the feasibility of the women participation in the labor market, their impact on the national income, and their contribution in dropping the poverty rates.
She emphasized on the need to stimulate the private sector to create jobs, and provide a favorable environment for women, because of its economic advantages to the community.
Awad calls for the Ministry of Labor to activate its supervisory role to control the labor market and ensure the implementation of all legislation, in addition to putting forth investment policies to encourage investment and expansion to provide additional employment opportunities in which women are engaged, without the prior requirement of favoring men over women in the work.
According to Shobaki, low participation rates of women in the labor market means that half of the society is disabled due to wasting of a great potential of the workforce without investing their capabilities and expertise.