Women of Al-Hasa grab the wheel to drive the initiative of change for women’s access to transportation and daycare facilities
The Himmitkum Association is a local non-profit organization funded and established by the women of Al-Hasa, a remote area located a two-hour drive South of Amman. Its members have been working to address some of the socio-economic challenges faced by women living in the village, including the lack of local transportation services and daycare facilities.
“To date, we do not have a proper daycare to serve the mothers of Al-Hasa. We need to build a nursery that is safe, sustainable, centrally-located and is able to cater to the unique needs of the women living here,” affirms Abla Al-Hajaya, one of the founding members of Himmitkum.
The absence of reliable and affordable transportation has been a long withstanding challenge for Jordanian women. An estimated 40 percent reported declining employment opportunities due to the lack of and inefficiency of public transportation services. Journeying on the limited buses available presents additional challenges for many women and girls, including unreliability, high prices, route redundancy, and fear of harassment. “A woman is faced with multiple hardships if she does not have transportation provided by her employer. She is often late to work or to university. If you do not have a car, your opportunities become very limited” Al-Hajaya added.
Inadequate local transportation and daycare facilities are two of the prevailing factors contributing to the lack of supportive work environments for the women of Al-Hasa. To address this issue, SADAQA in partnership with UN Women Jordan has began the implementation of the “Lowering the Barriers: Advocating for women’s economic rights by ensuring better access to transportation and workplace daycares” programme. The initiative is generously supported by the European Union Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian crisis and the Government of Australia.
“It is our goal that through skills development for caregivers and awareness raising for employers and working families on the importance of the value of daycares we will be able to reach the widest possible audience and encourage the launch of more daycares,” affirmed Randa Naffa, Co-Founder at SADAQA.
The main goal of the programme is to establish a women-led bus cooperative to solve the issue of transportation. Through the provision of a bus and comprehensive training on how to run a thriving cooperative, SADAQA will help to empower the women of Al-Hasa, with a cascading positive effect on their community.
The women also expressed disdain at the lack of daycares in the area, one of the leading challenges hindering women’s economic participation. In line with article 72 of the Labour Law, SADAQA has already presented a number of operating daycare models to local employers to meet the needs of local women, including joint daycare facilities, contracting neighboring daycares, home-based daycares, and subsidized national daycare programme.
SADAQA aims to promote the establishment of a daycare facility in Al-Hasa according to one of the models presented by the local organization. “We just want a place where we know our children will be safe. It does not need to be elaborated. A simple room that is clean, daycare providers who are qualified, loving, and kind. That is what is needed,” adds Al-Hajaya.