Engagement in economic life for women is severely limited by a number of factors, from the cultural appropriateness of jobs and workplace conditions to the high direct and indirect costs of transportation and time use decisions. This constitutes an economic problem for Jordan: it is estimated that the current gender gap in economic participation in general will induce a reduced potential GDP growth of at least 0.5 to 0.9 percent per year in coming years.
Moreover, Jordan’s MSE environment is a male-dominated market that disfavors female-owned and/or managed businesses. Women own less than 10 percent of MSEs in Jordan, while businesses owned and/or managed by women are nine times more likely to employ other women than those owned by men. At the same time, women-owned and/or managed businesses earn on average 50 percent less profit and save only one third of what their male counterparts do on a month-to-month basis.
USAID LENS Work
To ensure the engagement of women in economic activity and public sector decision-making, USAID LENS began the implementation of a comprehensive Gender Strategy in 2016. Strengthening our internal approach to women’s economic empowerment has included integration of gender targets, objectives and commitments into solicitations and vendor scoring mechanisms. This ensures that USAID LENS subcontractors and subawardees dedicate appropriate resources to include and benefit women in the execution of technical and grants-related activities. This has complemented Project technical work targeting women, particularly through work with home-based businesses and through the grants program (where nearly half of all grants have been awarded to female applicants).
- Produced the Gender Diversity for Small Businesses training manuals and used them for capacity building for 26 trainers and 245 business owners, part of the micro and small level Gender Diversity training that took place from March – October 2016.
- Conducted Access to Finance assessment for three cooperatives in Irbid, Karak and Tafileh, where a total of 62 members attended the four assessment sessions to explore their potentials for Informal Lending Groups (December 2016- March 2017).
- 21 Women Plumbers graduated from the 12-day Start Your Own Business Training that aimed to develop their business skills, teach them how to make business plans for their plumbing businesses, and allowed them to present and discuss their business plans with MFIs and the USAID LENS Grants team for potential funding.
- Working on the Informal Savings and Lending Groups manual (in Arabic) to cover important concepts and procedures needed to establish effective savings and lending groups in diffrerent governorates while targeting various business sectors. The activity will target at least 8 groups of 10 members to facilitate women access to finance, and is scheduled for launch in late April 2017.
- Launched the Women's Economic Empowerment grant which targets women working in non-traditional business sectors such as plumbers, electricians, carpenters, and so on, with a goal of giving 10-12 grants in total. The USAID LENS Women's Economic Empowerment team is working on designing grants for enabling the business environment for women, and for expanding women's businesses in different sectors with more focus on exporting potentials among women businesses.