Intergovernorate Roundtable in Northern Jordan Proposes a Way Forward for Promoting Rural Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Intergovernorate Roundtable in Northern Jordan Proposes a Way Forward for Promoting Rural Women’s Empowerment in Agriculture

Date: Monday, January 30, 2017

Participants in an intergovernorate roundtable discuss issues related to gender, agriculture and climate change
Photo Credit: Natalie Davirro. Mafraq Governorate, January 2017

On 30 January 2017, national stakeholders and women from rural communities across Irbid and Mafraq Governorates in the north of Jordan gathered at the Jordanian Engineers Association in Mafraq to discuss the role of women in responding to climate change and the way forward to promote women’s participation and leadership.

This intergovernorate roundtable, generously funded by the Government of Japan through UN Women, and organised by the Arab Women Organisation (AWO) and ACTED, was attended by representatives from the Ministries of Environment and Agriculture, the Chamber of Commerce, the Farmer’s Union, the Agricultural Credit Corporation, and educators from the Agricultural Vocational Training School in Irbid. In addition, representatives from 11 Community-Based Organisations (CBOs) and rural women from across Irbid and Mafraq Governorates gathered to share their experiences.

“I was so happy to see everyone engaged in this session, especially the representatives from the CBOs,” said Manal Qostandi Al-Baqaeen, a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, “They are working so hard to gain important knowledge to improve this sector.”

This intergovernorate roundtable symbolized the accumulation of 9 months of hard work and dedication. The roundtable was conducted as part of an 11-month project, “Strengthening women’s leadership in agricultural and national advocacy.” In addition to uniting civil society, governmental and private sector stakeholders, the project empowers over 230 rural women to participate in decision-making at local and national levels and advocate for women’s leadership in Jordan. As part of this project, a diverse group of stakeholders and rural women have engaged in 13 leadership trainings and 10 roundtable discussions, where participants discussed the obstacles that women face in accessing the agricultural sector, and the social norms that influence women's ability to participate in decision-making.

“I’ve learned so many new things from the whole project,” said Wedad Obeidat, Chairwoman of the Al-Rafeed Agricultural CBO who has been involved in the project from the start, “And I especially appreciated the focus on women’s rights, and our role in decision-making.”

On 30 January, participants drew upon the wide range of ideas gathered during all previous roundtables to discuss the ways forward, and propose a plan of action on ensuring their communities are gender inclusive and environmentally sustainable. The roundtable conclusions and recommendations to strengthen women’s leadership will be developed and presented at a national workshop in Amman in March 2017.


For further information, please contact:

ACTED Jordan Office



The ongoing Syrian crisis continues to place huge pressure on Jordan, which now hosts 1.4 million refugees. An estimated 83% of these refugees live in host communities, largely in the northern governorates of Jordan, contributing to competition for employment and depression in wages. Jordan already faces high levels of unemployment and in governorates where more refugees have settled in host communities, such as Irbid and Mafraq, unemployment has risen above the national averages. Competition for employment has been felt acutely in the informal sectors, such as agriculture where Syrian refugees often work without permits and for low wages. In 2015, the World Food Programme (WFP) found that 85% of Syrian refugee households were vulnerable to food insecurity or food insecure, with female headed households the most likely to suffer and turn to negative coping mechanisms, such as child labor and early marriage.

As well as the mounting pressure from the Syrian crisis, women in the agriculture sector face numerous challenges, as outlined in the recommendations of the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination  Against Women (CEDAW) Committee to Jordan: “the latest economic and social development plan recognized that rural women’s participation in agriculture had declined, and noted the weakness of farm workers’ organizations and the lack of conditions conducive to the participation of farm workers and other rural workers, especially women, in commercial agriculture.” The recommendations also highlighted the “lack of programs for training rural women and of voluntary programs to foster their participation in agricultural development and in the protection of agricultural resources and the environment”.

To address these challenges, ACTED and AWO are implementing an 11-month project funded by UN Women, to support rural women’s leadership in the agriculture sector by empowering them to advocate for and access better working conditions and leadership positions. Through women’s leadership trainings and mentorship in Irbid and Mafraq, and national-level trainings on advocacy, communication and climate change, the project will directly target over 200 rural women as well as providing capacity building for 11 Community-Based Organisations, benefiting 1,650 men and women indirectly in Irbid and Mafraq.

More information:
  • Marta Garbarino
  • Susan Al Hilo