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Women’s economic participation key to post-pandemic recovery, UN event hears

By Rana Husseini - Sep 15,2021 - Last updated at Sep 15,2021

Speakers during an event titled 'Women at Work: Towards a Gender-responsive Recovery for Jordan', which is part of a series of UN talks, on Tuesday (Petra photo)

AMMAN — Women’s active participation in the Jordanian labour market is an important element in boosting the local economy, especially following the negative repercussions from the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers at a UN event said on Monday.

The speakers took part in an event titled “Women at Work: Towards a Gender-responsive Recovery for Jordan”, which is part of a series of UN talks.

The event brought together representatives of UN agencies, the Jordanian government, the European Union (EU) and the private sector, to discuss Jordan’s post COVID-19 economic recovery efforts and the importance of “building back better” from a gender perspective.

The event, which was organised by the UN Resident Coordinator Office and UN Women, also discussed the holistic approaches needed to address the systematic barriers hampering women’s participation in the labour market, according to a UN Women statement.

It also aimed to shed light on the collective work of the UN to support the government of Jordan in promoting gender-responsive recovery efforts, the statement added.

“Investing in more work for women will be the real game changer towards a faster and more inclusive economic recovery,” UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan Anders Pedersen told the gathering.

He added: “We can’t go back to previous systems, and we can do better by working together.”

Pedersen stressed that women’s return and retention into the labour market cannot be achieved without support from the private sector, which “requires flexibility and more tailored family-leave policies. In the COVID-19 era, with a challenging economic outlook, this commitment should by no means be taken for granted”.

“We have to engage women in the private sector in decision making positions because they are the agents of change and will make the needed impact in the labour market,” Pedersen said. 

Also speaking during the event was Director of the Social Security Corporation (SSC) Hazim Rahahleh who said that measures adopted by the government since the onset of the pandemic have contributed to alleviating the economic impact of the pandemic on Jordanians, women and men alike.

He noted that 50 per cent of women subscribers at the Social Security Corporation (SSC) benefitted from the sustainability programme “Estidama”, launched in December 2020, which targets the hardest hit sectors and businesses.

“The insurances provided by the SSC, and the expansion of the maternity and health insurance system that the SSC intends to implement in the near future, all contribute to an enabling environment to increase women’s participation in the labour market,” Rahahleh said.

He added that the SSC’s insurance system has proven its ability to deal with challenges and developments, and it provided an opportunity to develop new tools to expand the umbrella of social protection.

Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women Salma Nims stressed that coordination among all the change actors to empower women in all aspects and at all levels, paired with the enforcement of relevant policies, are key factors to empower women economically.

“We cannot focus on women’s economic empowerment in separation from the other areas that are affecting women’s ability to enter the labour market, most importantly in the private sector. The care economy is one of the most important areas where dedicated investments are needed,” Nims said. 

Nadia Al Saeed, chief executive officer of Bank Al Etihad, pointed out that women comprised 14 per cent of the total workforce in Jordan prior to the crisis, which has increased their vulnerability from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak, according to the statement.

From employment losses and income insecurity, the situation of vulnerable women in Jordan has been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic, the former minister said.  

“Now more than ever, corporate policies surrounding gender diversity and equality are needed. Earlier in our journey, we enforced such policies and it paid off because we quickly adapted to the new normal,” Saeed stressed.

EU Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou said:  “Stronger engagement with partners on gender equality is key to a sustainable global recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and for building fairer, more inclusive societies.”

The EU delegation in Jordan is engaging with the Jordanian government using a gender-transformative approach, to support a gender-responsive recovery, she pointed out.

“We will continue supporting women’s financial literacy, access to finance, alongside innovative interventions and participation in the IT and green growth sectors, in addition to encouraging their participation and contribution in the political processes,” Hadjitheodosiou said.

The UN Talk is part of the series of talks organised under the United Nations Socio-Economic Framework (SEF) for COVID-19 Response, launched in July 2020, according to the statement.

The SEF outlines the impacts of COVID-19 and interventions in five pillars, including protecting health, people, economic recovery, macro-economics and multilateral cooperation, the statement said.

“For each pillar, the UN has worked hard to assess the impacts of the crisis to help us understand what is needed to simultaneously address immediate and medium-term needs. The analysis has also helped us reflect on what added value the UN can bring to the wider efforts of reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notwithstanding the impact of the crisis,” the statement said.

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