Thursday, 10 June 2010

The other workforce

Earlier this week in the JT (this stands for Jordanian Times and not "Journal Televise" - the abbreviation used for the French TV news), there was a very interesting article about "Women participation" in the Jordanian labour force. Feminists out there you better take a seat: only 14.9% of the workforce is represented by women - really bad considering the average in the whole Middle East - North Africa region where it's 28% (not glamorous, but slightly better).

I don't really know what kind of positions women hold in this country. I guess where I have seen the highest concentration is at our bank. Wherever you go, it is always men serving you: bars, restaurants, the baker, the fruit stalls. I have seen one female police officer since we arrived 5 months ago, even in baby shops, shoe shops or female clothes shops you have young men - and with it really loud music, usually techno. When you do groceries you'll see a woman here and there, but even most cashier positions (which are typical a woman's job in Europe) are held by men. Higher skilled positions, like teachers, journalists, lawyers, I don't have any relation with at all so I don't know.

The same goes for driving, for exemple. When we arrived to Amman, I started straight away - I thought I could as well just do it. The first day or so when I took the car and Bobs wasn't there, the doorman very sweetly commented on the fact that I was taking the car by myself and added something along the lines " my wife has always lived in Amman and she doesn't know how to get to City Mall!". We joked about it and I have asked him since if he has paid some driving lessons to his wife!? Probably not. But then there is the other problem what does she do with her 9months old baby while she is driving anyway? The use of baby seats is not wide spread and you usually see the kids crawling around in the car, poking their faces out on the windows and the mums sitting with the smaller ones on their lap (those ones also poking their faces out).

So why is it? Can Jordanian women not work and have a family? Don't they want to? Is it pure sexism? Just tradition? Are the Jordanian educated women leaving Jordan to get a well paid job somewhere else? I don't have an answer for all these questions, I certainly don't know the Jordanian population well enough to comment on them. But I know that in France for exemple, every year new reports come out and wage discrimination, job parity are always discussed.

Am no feminist - am a stay at home mum, I liked working, but I don't believe that I can work and give 100% and be a mum and give 100%. Of course if I had no choice I would have worked, but I can stay at home and I love it! However some women crave for independence, want to have their own money, a career, get out of the house - all this I totally understand - and they should have the possibility, no, the right to work, make good money (or at least as much as men!) and enjoy it as well.

10 comments:

Haitham Seelawi said...

Women in Jordan are treated as if they were some sort of property that must be annexed to a man! So, leaving Jordan to work alone, for a woman, is almost impossible!

But one have to say the truth, many companies in Jordan favors gals to guys, which is pure sexism as well, against women!

Not to forget that many girls are sent to a University for prestige, and are not allowed to work after they graduates! Btw, females are the dominating majority in Jordanian Universities!

Elisa, Croatia said...

One of my friends from Croatian class mentioned that she was a receptionist (Amman is her home city) when she lived there. Maybe one of these days I will ask her your questions and report back to you.

Babs said...

Haitham, that's interesting what you say, that women are the majority in Universities. Do you think the society will change? and more women will be allowed to work?

Babs said...

Elisa, would love to hear what your friend has to say about that!

Haitham Seelawi said...

Babs,

Am sure of this! See, the financial support of a family is becoming a burden! So the only way out is women working, but I think they will work in jobs that are considered feminine in Jordanian standards!

Olga said...

Hi Babs :) Very nice blog - very hot in terms of the weather ;) I like the Bibs-Babs-Bobs thing very much as well :)

Ulrike, Dubai said...

I don't know what the reason is, I have three Jordanian friends - female friends - and they all work, one is even an engineer, so I don't know whether it's not simply the ability to be able to stay home with the kids, just like you.
I do agree that 'you can have it all' is a complete myth, I have been a full-time mother and a stay-at-home mum, enjoyed neither but have now found the ideal: working freelance from home - that way I can have it all, just less money...

Babs said...

Are your friends in Jordan? I don't think it's only the stay at home with the kids though. Having the possibility to work from home is great, Lucky you!

Anonymous said...

I think you will find that a lot of women do work in Jordan, especially in fields like teaching where there is very little mixing of the genders. I also regularly encounter female doctors, nurses, pharmacists, lab technicians, store clerks, secretaries lawyers and others. Many conservative families, however, don't wish their daughters to work in male-dominated fields or fields in which there is free mixing of the two genders. This is probably the main issue that prevents women from entering certain fields.

Babs said...

I actually thought about schools when writing this... but all these jobs are for qualified personnel only, what about all those who cannot afford going to uni or a specialised college? will there never be work for them?

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