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JSF calls for increase in women at industry, commerce chambers

By Ana V. Ibáñez Prieto - Apr 17,2018 - Last updated at Apr 17,2018

AMMAN — The Jordanian Strategy Forum (JSF) on Sunday issued a position paper calling for the increase of female representation at the chambers of industry and commerce and related organisms, criticising that “the draft law of chambers of industry and trade did not address the inclusion of businesswomen at such institutions, or ensure their representation at the boards of directors”.

JSF highlighted the importance of granting Jordanian women fair economic opportunities through just representation in the concerned bodies, recommending the allocation of seats through an electoral quota for women in each board of directors for all chambers of commerce and industry across the Kingdom.

JSF’s recommendation was supported by Amman Chamber of Industry's (ACI) Senator Ziad Homsi, who echoed the position paper by stating that the chamber believes that “the most important step in order to increase the percentage of women owning industrial companies in Jordan is to allocate an electoral quota to ensure women's representation at the different boards of directors”.

“ACI recognises the importance of women's participation in the industrial sector and supports them,” Homsi told The Jordan Times, referring to the recent Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed in cooperation with the Jordan Business and Professional Women Association (BPWA) with the aim of promoting women's participation in the business sector.

The position paper was issued in cooperation with the BPWA, according to vice president Reem Albaghdadi who stressed that the organisation believes that “economic empowerment for women will not be achieved if businesswomen are kept aside while discussing and taking decisions concerning commerce and industry in Jordan”.

“Research on the best practices related to this issue showed that most of the surrounding countries are implementing fair participation for women, while we still suffer from low female representation at the commerce and industry chambers”, Albaghdadi added, stressing: “We are way behind those practices, thus we now know that no organisation can prosper without tapping into the full mental and emotional potentials of both genders.”

Albaghdadi added that the BPWA recently approached the Parliament's women committee, calling on other organisations to “join us on this initiative so we can bring a fair representation for women at the chambers.”

The position paper also called for establishing a permanent committee for women in business affiliated to the Federation of Jordanian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, stressing that “in view of the extended efforts in supporting and empowering businesswomen, this committee shall work as an umbrella organisation capable of unifying the efforts of all civil society organisations in this matter”.

“The participation of women in the labour market and their representation on the various boards of directors is still weak and below what Jordan aspires to,” the position paper criticised, noting that the number of women in the Jordan Chamber of Commerce is one out of 174 seats (0.5 per cent), while the number of female representatives in the Chamber of Industry was slightly more positive, with 4 out of 47 seats (8 per cent). 

JSF linked the lack of representation to the low rates in female economic participation in the Kingdom, highlighting that the percentage of women employees in the public sector was 36 per cent, while females in the private sector accounted for the 21 per cent.

In this regard, the paper stressed that the representation of women in industrial and commercial chambers is “key” for the increase of female economic participation, noting that their presence in the different organisms would enable them to present the challenges faced by women in business specifically. 

However, concerning the possibility of establishing independent chambers of industry and trade for women in Jordan, the organisation noted that “although some countries have succeeded in establishing such organisms, it is not advisable to do so in the Kingdom, as the modest number of businesswomen in our country will not be sufficient for this purpose”.

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