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Youth, collaborations with private sector path to sustainable development — Espinosa

UN general assembly president commends Kingdom for policies on refugees, regional challenges

By Elizabeth Turnbull - Jul 24,2019 - Last updated at Jul 24,2019

María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés

AMMAN — Jordan has shown a strong commitment to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), despite managing the challenges of hosting refugees and high levels of unemployment, the UN’s General Assembly president told The Jordan Times on Wednesday. 

In relation to job creation in Jordan, and furthering the UN's goal of creating 600 million new jobs by 2030, President of the UN General Assembly María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés stressed the importance of self-reliant small companies, prioritising and listening to the youth, and forming alliances with the private sector, due to the limited absorption capacity of the public sector.

"[There is] very little absorption capacity in the public sector so alliances and partnerships with the private sector are a must," Espinosa said. "This country is putting so much effort into FDI, [Foreign Direct Investment], the private sector has a very important role to play but also self-reliant small companies." 

In addition, Espinosa said that new technologies should be taken very seriously, because of the opportunities and challenges they present.

"We do need to come up with some kind of wise governance framework to really be careful about new technologies being used as opportunities and not as factors to displace and delete job opportunities," Espinosa said.

According to the 2018 Global Gender Gap report, Jordan ranks 129th out of 149 countries in terms of women's political empowerment, with women making up just 15.4 per cent of Parliament and 7.1 per cent of ministerial positions.

In response to such figures, Espinosa urged more women to run for Parliament, adding that female leaders should be trusted and seen as capable of making good decisions.

Espinosa noted the government's awareness and commitment to work towards attaining the gender equality SDG, saying that the attainment of gender equality is a matter of a cultural and societal change.

"You know the presence of women ministers in Cabinet, they are in very small numbers," Espinosa said. "But I am very optimistic speaking with the prime minister, with the foreign minister, I think they are very clear that this is something where Jordan can do much much more." 

In order to further obtain gender equality, Espinosa stressed the importance of allowing women to obtain an education and work to prevent child marriages, which she described as a world-wide issue, with worrisome numbers of child marriage among Syrian refugee populations in Jordan. 

Espinosa stressed the importance of creating spaces of empowerment and education for women — places were women display power and self-reliance.

"There are no magic formulas," Espinosa said in reference to preventing child marriages. "But I would say that it requires a cultural shift, a change in mindsets and it requires a lot of education and awareness."

Despite having encountered a lack of strong political will in some countries in regards to combating climate change, Espinosa commended Jordan for being an example for the international community, as Jordan has committed to decreasing it's emissions by 14 per cent by 2030, a goal Espinosa described as "very ambitious".

"Jordan needs to be commended," Espinosa said. "We all know that Jordan is undergoing a lot of fiscal pressure, economic challenges, you know the refugee crisis on its shoulders, so many difficulties and yet they're doing the right thing."

In addition, Garcés commended the government and the Jordanian people for forming "a common sense country" which she described as being an enabler "for dialogue and good diplomacy", and in helping address the issues caused by conflicts in the region. 

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