The USAID-funded Sustainable Achievement of Business Expansion and Quality (SABEQ) program is now making its recent assessment of the status of Jordanian women’s role as active contributors to Jordan’s economy, available for public dissemination.
The assessment, conducted January 3-18, 2007, aims to benchmark the important role of gender through identifying key gender issues in Jordan which are relevant to each of SABEQ’s components. Through analysis of gender issues within the context of the program, the assessment further aims to reveal opportunities for other programs to integrate gender as a means of promoting women’s participation in the economy. Key findings of the assessment include the fact that even though the role and support to women has increased over the past years, the fact remains that women participation in the decision making process in business and financial support is very poor. The findings revealed two main points; first, women-owned small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) compose less than 4% of Jordanian SMEs and although so much has been invested in advancing their skills, the bottle necks in the systems cause difficulty in accessing finances. Second, the informal sector is mainly dominated by women-owned micro enterprises that are not graduating to small-sized enterprise levels due to the fact that they not only find difficulty in accessing finances, but they also do not have many training and capacity building opportunities, especially in rural areas of the Kingdom. In response to the findings, the assessment lays out several recommendations for each of SABEQ’s components to better enhance women’s participation in various areas concerned with the business arena such as the financial sector, enhancing productivity, increasing trade and investment and working with the government to ease restrictions and processes on private sector businesses.
The assessment was administered by using a variety of methods such as interviews, literature review from a range of women’s organizations, field visits conducted in Amman as well as the governorates of Karak and Irbid and their districts, in addition to working with several focus groups.
Gender integration, an important cross-cutting activity in SABEQ, is instrumental in maximizing the impact of the project and its efficiency in addressing the needs of both men and women in Jordan.
The USAID-funded Sustainable Achievement of Business Expansion and Quality (SABEQ) program is a five year broad economic development initiative implemented by BearingPoint, Inc. and a sizeable team of international and Jordanian partner firms. By both supporting improvements in the business environment and providing assistance to expand innovation and productivity in Jordanian businesses, SABEQ’s four components all support the common objective of building up the private sector—Jordan’s companies, innovators and entrepreneurs—as a powerful engine of economic growth.