Investing in women’s employment is key to economic growth and recovery from the pandemic - UN Talk
Investing in women’s employment is critical for economic and sustainable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, speakers at a UN Talk stressed on Monday.
“Women at work: towards a gender-responsive recovery for Jordan”, part of a series of UN Talks, brought together representatives of the UN, Government of Jordan, EU and the private sector, where they discussed Jordan’s post COVID-19 economic recovery efforts and the importance of building back better from a gender perspective.
The event, organized by the UN Resident Coordinator Office and UN Women, also discussed the holistic approaches needed to address the systematic barriers hampering women’s participation in the labor market and the collective work of the UN to support the Government of Jordan in promoting gender-responsive recovery efforts.
“Investing in more work for women will be the real gamechanger towards a faster and more inclusive economic recovery. We can’t go back to previous systems and we can do better by working together,” said Anders Pedersen, the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Jordan.
He stressed that women’s return and retention into the labor market cannot be achieved without support from the private sector, which “requires flexibility and more tailored family-leave policies. In the COVID-19 era, with a challenging economic outlook, this commitment should by no means be taken for granted”.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented global health crisis, while simultaneously threatening one of the worst global economic crises of current times.
To mitigate such risks, the Government of Jordan has adopted important measures to counteract the negative economic outcomes of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Hazim Rahahleh, Director of the Social Security Corporation (SSC) said measures adopted by the Government since the onset of the pandemic have contributed to alleviating the economic impact of the pandemic on Jordanians, women and men alike. He noted that 50% of women subscribers at the social security benefited from the sustainability programme “Estidama”, launched in December 2020, which targets the hardest hit sectors and businesses.
“The insurances provided by SSC, and the expansion of the maternity and health insurance system which SSC intends to implement in the near future, all contribute to an enabling environment to increase women’s participation in the labor market ”, Rahahleh said.
He added that the SSC’s insurance system has proven its ability to deal with challenges and developments, and it provided an opportunity to develop new tools to expand the umbrella of social protection.
Women already comprised 14% of the total workforce in Jordan prior to the crisis, which increased their vulnerability from the onset of the COVID-19 outbreak. From employment losses and income insecurity, the situation of vulnerable women in Jordan has been exacerbated by the impact of the pandemic. Unemployment rates reached a record high of 23.2%, where unemployment among women reached 30.7%.
For Salma Nims, Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women coordination among all the change actors to empower women in all aspects and at all levels, paired with the enforcement of relevant policies, are key factors to empower women economically.
“We cannot focus on women’s economic empowerment in separation from the other areas that are affecting women’s ability to enter the labour market, most importantly in the private sector. The care economy is one of the most important areas where dedicated investments are needed,” Nims said.
During the Talk speakers also emphasized the important role of both the international partners and the private sector in supporting the Government of Jordan’s efforts towards promoting a gender-responsive recovery.
Nadia Al Saeed, Chief Executive of Bank Al Etihad said: “now more than ever, corporate policies surrounding gender diversity and equality are needed. Earlier in our journey, we enforced such policies and it paid off because we quickly adapted to the new normal”.
The European Union (EU) Ambassador to Jordan Maria Hadjitheodosiou, said: “stronger engagement with partners on gender equality, is key to a sustainable global recovery from the COVID-19 crisis and for building fairer, more inclusive societies. The EU Delegation in Jordan is engaging with the Government of Jordan using a gender-transformative approach, to support a gender-responsive recovery. We will continue supporting women’s financial literacy, access to finance, alongside innovative interventions and participation in the IT and green growth sectors, in addition to encouraging their participation and contribution in the political processes,” Hadjitheodosiou said.
The UN Talk is part of the series of talks organized under the United Nations Socio-Economic Framework (SEF) for COVID-19 Response, launched in July 2020.
The SEF outlines impacts of COVID-19 and interventions in five pillars: 1) Protecting Health; 2) Protecting People; 3) Economic Recovery; 4) Macro-economics and Multilateral Cooperation; and 5) Social Cohesion and Resilience. For each pillar, the UN has worked hard to assess the impacts of the crisis to help us understand what is needed to simultaneously address immediate and medium-term needs. The analysis has also helped us reflect on what added value the UN can bring to the wider efforts of reaching Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), notwithstanding the impact of the crisis.