Coronavirus pandemic raises number of unemployed women in Jordan


Jordanian women have been the primary victims of the coronavirus pandemic, having lost their jobs or have had to shut down their small businesses due to precautionary measures that were put in place in either partial or complete lockdowns.

Women are the head of the household in more than a quarter of a million of the country’s estimated two million, civil society organisation “Solidarity” [Tadamon] said.

Now, Jordanian women not only find themselves increasingly the breadwinners for their families; they are now facing a new challenge threatening them with the loss of their jobs due to coronavirus.

Figures from the Department of Statistics have shown that unemployment among women has now risen above 33%, brought about by the precarious economic conditions due to the pandemic.

The rise in unemployment was not only among marginalised women, as 77% of unemployed women have been educated up to degree level.

Previous governments have fallen short on unemployment, Jordan’s Minister of Labour, Maen Qatamin told Independent Arabia, while stressing there are plenty of employment opportunities up for grabs in Jordan.

Economists confirm that the lack of women’s participation in the labour market in Jordan is depriving the national economy from exploiting half of its workforce, as women account for 47% of the population.

Feminist organisations, however, report on the hardship women casual workers face, and the same goes for unorganised sectors where they are the biggest workforce.

These organisations also warn of the danger of closing day care nurseries as this adds more pressure on working mothers who may then find it hard to juggle between work and childcare.

Generally, the pandemic has revealed how fragile economic resources are for women, how weak their social protection can be, and how meagre health and economic policies are.

Jordan still sits at the bottom of The Global Gender Gap Report, on issues of economic participation, political empowerment, education, and health.

Female-headed households rely on rent payments and transfers as their main sources of income, with their earnings only accounting for 30% of the total income in the country. Most Jordanian households primarily spend their annual incomes on food and health, followed by housing, water, electricity, and gas.

Coronavirus led to job insecurity among tens of thousands of Jordanian workers, reveals Jordan’s Labour Watch. This includes women who are the sole breadwinners for their households.

In the first three months of the pandemic, 8.7% of them were permanently laid off, while overall unemployment figures increased to 23.9%, revealed a study by the Phenix Center for Economics &Informatics Studies on the effects of coronavirus on the economic conditions of households in Jordan.

Observers and experts affirm that the pandemic has deepened the gaps in work in Jordan. (Source: Independent UK)