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Activists urge gov’t to reopen daycare sector to ensure women’s continued participation in labour market

By Rana Husseini - May 05,2020 - Last updated at May 05,2020

Activists and local organisations on Tuesday called on the government to allow the daycare sector and other childcare facilities to return to work to ensure women’s continued active participation in the labour market (Photo courtesy of UNICEF Jordan website)

AMMAN — Activists and local organisations on Tuesday called on the government to allow the daycare sector and other childcare facilities to return to work to ensure women’s continued active participation in the labour market.

The government announced earlier this week the reopening of all economic sectors as of Wednesday, including those that were not allowed to operate fully during the lockdown to prevent the COVID-19 spread.

The government said the sectors will be permitted to work at full production capacity provided that the percentage of Jordanian employment in the establishment does not fall below 75 per cent, but excluded several entities from its decision, such as daycare centres, restaurants and gyms.

The government’s decision was met with dismay by many women groups, including SADAQA organisation, which has focused its work on childcare services and facilities in Jordan for several years.

SADAQA initiated an electronic campaign on Monday night titled “Female labourers’ voices” urging social media users to call on the government to open the daycare centres under the hashtags “where would we leave our children?” and “no work without daycare centres”.

“We have launched several activities, including three policy papers and several Internet activities that addressed the conditions of working women during the lockdown, and called on the government to adopt policies that would protect them and facilitate their return to the labour market,” SADAQA Core Team Member Randa Naffa said.

Naffa told The Jordan Times that “dozens of mothers and working women contacted SADAQA to voice their objection regarding the recent government’s decision to exclude daycare centres from opening, which will force them to stay home to care for their children and eventually lose their jobs”.

“We heard their complaints and decided to launch an electronic campaign on Tuesday to support their demands and called on the government to allow the flexi hour system and to allow the opening of daycare centres under strict health rules,” Naffa added.

Meanwhile, Solidarity Is Global Institute (SIGI) issued a statement calling on the government to allow children and the elderly to leave the house.

“This strict curfew that is imposed on children will force many working and unemployed women to stay home to take care of their children, which will force them to lose their job or to be unable to enroll in various professions to support themselves and their families,” the SIGI statement said.

The statement called on the government to adopt extra measures to protect women’s labourers’ rights and guarantee that they will not lose their jobs.

“There are no place for mothers to send their children to while they go to work and, therefore, they should give the priority for women to work at home for the time being so that they do not lose their jobs,” SIGI Executive Director Asma Khader told The Jordan Times.

The government’s decision should be comprehensive and include all sectors while maintaining job stability and security, Khader stressed.

Meanwhile, Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Secretary General Salma Nims also called on the government to find a solution for parents who have to go back to their jobs by “opening care facilities for children while the parents are at work”.

“Many working parents used to send their children to clubs, daycare and other activities, especially during the summer, but the government did not list these entities as ones that could open on Wednesday,” Nims told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

This will create problems for both parents because they might be forced to take unpaid leave to care for their children or to resign, according to Nims.

“I believe the government should support women by issuing new directives that involves the Social Security Corporation to support families financially so that they can hire childcares to be with their children at home while they go to work,” Nims said.

Women in Business Arabia (WBA) also wrote on their Facebook page calling on the government to consider the nurseries as a vital sector “to protect women’s right and support the return and continuation of various economic sectors in accordance with the health and safety conditions”.

The WBA also called on the government to provide tax exemptions and administrative facilities to the owners of the nurseries to support them to continue their work and not to be forced to shut down.

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