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Labor Watch: Working Women Face Challenges in Rural Areas

Women in Jordan’s rural areas face numerous obstacles affecting their ability to become and remain economically active, a special report has shown.

Among the main hurdles identified were a lack of fixed wages, fixed working days, or specific work hours, a lack of access to social protection, and generally low wages—falling short of the national minimum wage of 260 dinars in several of cases mentioned.

The report was published by Jordan Labor Watch—a project by the Phenix Center for Economic and Informatics Studies—in cooperation with the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, under the title “Female Workers in Rural Areas: Substantial Challenges and Substandard Conditions”.

Workers interviewed decried the poor quality and high cost of public transport, considering their low wages, together with a lack of nurseries and kindergartens available to working mothers, and a general lack of both material and moral support.

The report elaborated that the agricultural sector—namely, farming and animal husbandry—represented the main source of income of most working women in Jordan’s rural areas. Other women were also employed in occupations such as food processing, clothing, sewing, and tourism, describing working conditions which were patently noncompliant with decent work standards.

It bears noting that, as according to the International Labour Organization, Jordan ranked 149 out of 153 countries in terms of women’s economic participation in the workforce as recently as 2021.

The report goes on to underline how insufficient and unreliable women’s incomes are the country’s rural areas—especially in the agricultural sector, where much of the work is often seasonal.

It was further reported that female factory workers in the textile and food processing sectors earn below-minimum wages and are denied annual leave, and have all holidays deducted from their pay.

The report concludes by recommending the inclusion of working women in rural areas—especially the agricultural sector—under social protection systems, together with the development of work mechanisms adapted to the needs of working women, the improvement of public transport, and the introduction of amendments to Jordan’s Labor Law with the aim of making the provision of nurseries compulsory.

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