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Gender Equality and Women's Empowerment

Women create pottery at a ceramics co-operative near Petra
Women create pottery at a ceramics co-operative near Petra

Despite having closed or reversed the gender gap in female education at all levels, Jordan continues to have one of the world’s lowest rates of women’s participation in the workforce.  Female youth are twice as likely to be unemployed as young males.  There is support for improvement among government leadership, but policies may not be implemented, resources and leadership are lacking, and there are discrepancies between constitutional rights and local social norms and traditions. 

Constraints on women’s political participation also persist despite expanding quotas for women in national and municipal bodies.  Traditional beliefs and norms within families and communities are major barriers to both males’ and females’ life choices and aspirations.  Furthermore, violence against women is prevalent and underreported due to social and family pressures.  

USAID has collaborated for decades with the Government of Jordan and a wide range of civil society organizations to support the well-being and empowerment of women and girls, promoting gender equality across all of our programs.  While this has been most evident in the health and education sectors, female entrepreneurs and business owners have also benefited from USAID-supported microfinance and business development programs.  Young women and girls have gained work, entrepreneurial, and leadership skills. 

Our support for female political leadership has helped to usher in Jordan’s first women’s caucus in Parliament. Our current strategy aims to help change social norms and behaviors that discriminate against women by expanding social dialogue on gender equality; strengthening enforcement and advocacy for female empowerment; and improving services for women and girls.

Examples of USAID-supported impacts and achievements:

  • Funded development/updating of a national strategy for women and the first comprehensive gender assessment to improve social development policies and services delivered to women.
  • Identified gender discrimination in such areas as fiscal reform, social security, and civil service employment; helped develop options for more equitable new laws.
  • Supported revision of penal code articles related to violence against women; mobilized NGO community health workers and leaders to reach 460,000 women on preventing/addressing violence against women; institutionalized training programs and procedures for the detection and referral of gender-based violence cases in 17 private hospitals.
  • Trained 11,284 Ministry of Education female educators, teachers, principals, and supervisors on how to improve their teaching and leadership skills and empower students.
  • Raised public discourse on gender issues by training hundreds of journalists to cover women’s issues and convening more than a thousand community-based dialogues on gender issues. 

Last updated: March 23, 2015

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