Women fall behind with economic participation, exceed in other fields in Jordan
The rate of economic participation of women in Jordan is among the lowest in the world, standing in sharp contrast to the “impressive” achievements related to the country’s human development record over the past three decades, a World Bank (WB) report said.
The recently issued report said that Jordan’s female economic participation rate stands at 22 per cent, about a fourth of that for men (at 87 per cent).
According to the “Economic Participation, Agency and Access to Justice in Jordan” report, in the past decade Jordan saw robust economic growth, consistently above average for the Middle East and North Africa region, yet women’s participation in the economy still lagged behind.
Economic growth averaged 6.7 per cent in the past decade (against 4.5 per cent for the MENA region), before it slowed down to 2 to 3 per cent in 2009 and 2010, a drop blamed on the global financial crisis, according to the report.
The WB also cited the Enterprise Survey (2006), which showed that merely 3.6 per cent of firms in Jordan had a female majority shareholder and only 11 per cent had a female among their principal owners.
With regards to access to land ownership, the report indicated that despite the absence of legal restrictions on purchase or sale of land by women, ownership remains low. However, the report does state that land registered by women is increasing, with the figure standing at 17 per cent of the total of such transactions in 2012. The percentage of jointly titled property remains low, with only 12 per cent for land and 7 per cent for apartments, the report stated.
Despite the low economic participation of Jordanian women, the report did cite developments in other fields.
“As in most other MENA countries, Jordan exhibits remarkable equity in health and education outcomes at the household level,” the report said, adding that maternal mortality is low and declining, with female life expectancy rising from 66 to 73.6 years, compared to a rise of 63 to 70 years for men in the past three decades.
Also, literacy rates for female adults rose from 55 per cent to 86 per cent in the same period. Today, Jordan has a 90 per cent gender parity in literacy, placing it among the top five MENA countries,” the report explained.
The report also noted that the Kingdom is one of the eight countries in the MENA region to show a “reverse gender gap” in education at the tertiary level, with more women than men attending university. While challenges are still there (according to the World Development Indicators 2011, Jordan is among the seven MENA countries with the highest gender gap in completion for tertiary education) these remain important achievements.
Nevertheless, the 2010 World Economic Forum report on Gender Gap ranked Jordan 120th among 134 countries with regards to economic opportunities for women, well below many middle-income countries.
The report listed several factors that might explain the low rates of economic participation for women, including gender norms, the legal framework and the structure of the economy.