I had the honor of joining a group of Jordanian entrepreneurs for breakfast, upon the invitation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland Ambassador in Jordan, to meet with Andrew Mitchell, the UK Minister for Development, to engage in a meaningful discussion about the entrepreneurial landscape in Jordan and the challenges that local entrepreneurs face. Moreover, we had the privilege of hearing from the Minister about the UK’s plans to aid the development of Jordan. Witnessing the passion and dedication of my fellow entrepreneurs was genuinely inspiring, and the UK’s unwavering commitment to making a positive impact in the region left me feeling encouraged.
One of the topics we discussed was women’s empowerment challenges in Jordan, and here I shared my two cents. I suggested that transportation is one of the main issues slowing down women’s presence in the workforce. We need to find ways to make transportation more accessible and affordable for women, especially those who live in rural areas. The conversation then turned to using digital technology and empowering women from home without needing physical presence to overcome the transportation barrier or cultural restraints. While this may seem like a great idea, I believe it is poor when it comes to empowering women. Women need to interact with society, make a balance, and be out there in the workforce. Giving women the freedom to work night shifts while their children and husbands sleep is also not the solution, as proposed by one of the entrepreneurs during the discussion. It is like detention with better facilities and goes against women’s empowerment.
My Blog reader, let me tell you something we all know to be true: women’s empowerment is crucial for the development of any nation. Unfortunately, in many developing countries, women face social, economic, and political barriers that limit their progress.
But fear not because women worldwide are breaking down these barriers and advancing gender equality. By providing access to education, healthcare, and employment opportunities, we can empower women and help them reach their full potential. And when women are empowered, they become active decision-makers who can shape the future of their communities, their governments, and the world.
What’s more, studies have proved that empowering women can help boost economic growth, reduce poverty, and increase the prosperity of all citizens. So, my dear friends, it’s up to us to act and help break down these barriers for women in developing countries. Let’s empower women and pave the way for a brighter future for all.
In Jordan, women face many challenges in the workforce that can limit their participation and advancement. Even though women in Jordan are generally well-educated and have a high literacy level, their labor force participation rate is only around 14% compared to 37%, and rising in Saudi Arabia. Women are also disproportionately represented in low-paid and informal jobs, and are underrepresented in leadership and decision-making roles.
Empowering women in developing countries requires addressing these cultural barriers through education and awareness-raising programs that promote gender equality and challenge traditional gender roles. It also involves engaging men and boys in these efforts, as they play a critical role in shaping cultural norms and attitudes. By working together to promote gender equality, women and men in developing countries can create more inclusive societies that benefit everyone.
Empowering women requires a multifaceted approach that addresses the various barriers that prevent them from fully participating in society. We must work together to create an environment where women have equal access to education, healthcare, and job opportunities and can thrive while balancing their home life with a decent transportation facility.
While telecommuting and flexible work schedules can help, we should not rely on them as a complete solution. Isolating women behind a computer at home and suggesting that we are adapting to cultural restraints is not the answer. We must challenge and change these cultural restraints that hold women back and limit their opportunities. I believe transportation limitations in Jordan are not helping with this and are considered one of the main roadblocks.
A fundamental need to overcome this is to provide women with decent transportation options, including having reliable schedules and knowing when the bus is leaving from the nearest point to their homes without any delays. Proper bus seating and respect for pregnant women and those who need priority is also a simple yet crucial need. By addressing these basic needs, we can provide women with the necessary tools to take control of their lives and careers and ultimately achieve true gender equality.
The issue of unreliable public transportation in Jordan is an essential factor limiting women’s mobility and access to opportunities. When public transport is not running on schedule or does not connect efficiently between different points of destination, it can create many challenges for women, especially those who rely on public transportation for their daily commute.
Empowering women requires systemic change that challenges traditional gender roles and expectations, promotes gender equality, and provides equal opportunities for women to participate fully in all aspects of society. By working together to address these issues, we can create a more equal and prosperous society where women can achieve their full potential and make meaningful contributions to their communities and the world.
Back to the idea of empowering women to work from home and build their capacity to conduct their tasks remotely through the digital layer is a complex issue with both potential benefits and drawbacks.
On the one hand, remote work can provide women with increased flexibility and autonomy over their schedules, which can be particularly important for those who face challenges balancing work and caregiving responsibilities. It can also reduce the need for long commutes, which can be time-consuming and expensive, and may make it easier for women to participate in the workforce.
Furthermore, digital technology can provide women with access to a wide range of resources and networks, enabling them to build their skills and expertise and to connect with other professionals in their field, which can be particularly beneficial for women who live in rural areas or who have limited access to traditional workplace opportunities.
However, it is also true that remote work can create social isolation and limit women’s opportunities for professional and social growth. Working from home can make it challenging to develop the kind of relationships and networks that are essential for career advancement and can limit exposure to new ideas and perspectives.
n addition, remote work can exacerbate existing gender inequalities in the workplace. For example, women may face challenges in negotiating pay and benefits when they are not physically present in the workplace and may be more vulnerable to discrimination or harassment when they work remotely.
In an article I read by Wired UK; remote working has a huge sexual harassment problem. A report in the article suggests that harassers have taken advantage of the virtual workplace to continue the intimidating behaviors they had already honed in physical workspaces. Women are particularly vulnerable to online harassment, with many experiencing unwanted sexual advances or comments during video calls or chat messages.
This surge in online harassment is particularly worrying, as it threatens to reverse the progress toward gender equality in the workplace. Women who experience online harassment may feel uncomfortable or unsafe in remote work, which can, in turn, impact women’s career progression and opportunities.
Social interaction is essential because it helps build relationships, trust, and a sense of community. When people interact in person, they can pick up on nonverbal cues, such as body language and facial expressions, which help to build rapport and create a more profound understanding between individuals. Social interaction also allows for spontaneous conversations and connections, which can lead to new ideas and collaborations. In addition, social interactions can help reduce stress and increase overall well-being.
Remote telecommuting can limit social interaction as it relies on technology to facilitate communication. While remote workers can communicate via video conferencing, chat platforms, and email, these interactions are often more formal and structured than in-person conversations. Furthermore, remote workers may miss out on social cues and connections from in-person exchanges, making building trust and relationships with colleagues challenging. Additionally, remote workers may feel isolated or disconnected from their colleagues and the company culture.
For these reasons, remote telecommuting cannot fully achieve social interaction. Companies need to find a balance between remote work and in-person interactions to create a healthy work environment that supports social interaction while still allowing for the benefits of remote work.
One approach could be creating more local job opportunities accessible to women within their communities, including investing in and supporting small businesses, particularly those run by women, or offering products or services that cater to women. By creating more local job opportunities, women may not have to travel as far for work, which can help to reduce transportation barriers.
A hybrid model of work, which combines elements of remote and in-person work, can also be a viable solution to empower women and improve their participation in the workforce in Jordan.
By adopting a hybrid work model, companies can provide flexibility to their employees while maintaining a connection to the workplace. For example, women could work from home for part of the week and come into the office for the remainder of the week, which can help to reduce transportation barriers and provide women with more opportunities to balance their work and personal lives.
A hybrid work model can also benefit women with other caregiving responsibilities, such as caring for elderly parents or other family members. By providing flexibility in the workplace, companies can help to reduce the burden of caregiving responsibilities and create a more inclusive workplace.
However, it’s essential to ensure that a hybrid work model is implemented equitably for all employees, including men and women, providing equal access to opportunities for career development, promotions, and pay raises for remote and in-person workers. It’s also essential to ensure that communication channels are open and inclusive, so remote workers are not left out of meaningful discussions or decisions.
Maysalward has successfully implemented a hybrid work environment for over a decade. We continue to adapt and refine our approach each year to enhance it for everyone involved.
To develop a hybrid solution that optimizes the advantages of remote work while fostering social and professional development for both women and men, a comprehensive approach that considers the needs and preferences of all employees is crucial. Here are some strategies that can be employed:
- Provide flexibility: Offer flexible work arrangements that allow employees to work from home and in the office part of the time, as well as flexible schedules that accommodate different work styles and personal obligations, which can enable employees to balance their work and personal responsibilities while also maintaining connections with colleagues and building social networks.
- Encourage collaboration: Provide opportunities for employees to collaborate and build relationships with colleagues, whether in person or remotely, including virtual meetings, team-building activities, and networking events that enable employees to connect and exchange ideas.
- Promote professional development: Provide opportunities for employees to develop their skills and advance their careers, whether through traditional training programs or online courses and webinars, which can enable employees to build their expertise and stay competitive in their field while also creating opportunities for professional growth and advancement.
- Address gender bias: Take steps to address gender-based discrimination and create a more inclusive workplace culture that values diversity and promotes gender equality, including training programs, mentorship and sponsorship opportunities, and policies that encourage work-life balance and support the needs of working parents.
- Provide adequate resources: Ensure employees have the resources and technology they need to work effectively and efficiently, whether in the office or remotely, including access to high-speed internet, video conferencing tools, and other technologies that facilitate communication and collaboration.
By taking a hybrid approach that provides employees with flexibility, opportunities for collaboration and professional development, and adequate resources, organizations can create a more inclusive and equitable workplace culture that benefits both women and men, which can enable employees to achieve their full potential and contribute to the success of the organization.
Businesses should strive to create an inclusive and equitable workplace where women are respected, valued, and empowered. Companies should implement policies such as equal pay for equal work, flexible working hours and parental leave for both genders, and support networks for female employees. Additionally, practices like mentoring and sponsorship of women can help them succeed in their careers.
To achieve gender equality in the workplace, businesses must strive to create a culture that values gender diversity and champions female leadership. By prioritizing these initiatives, organizations can make significant progress in promoting gender equality and building a more inclusive work environment.
In conclusion, while remote work has become a necessity in the current times, it is vital to acknowledge its limitations in terms of social interaction and career growth, particularly for women. The benefits of being present in the workplace cannot be underestimated, as it provides opportunities for networking, mentorship, and collaboration. Companies must make a concerted effort to create a diverse and inclusive workplace and offer flexible working hours, job-sharing, and childcare support to enable women to participate in the workforce. By doing so, they can empower women and benefit from their valuable contributions and perspectives. Ultimately, it is vital to strive towards creating an environment where women can thrive, and gender equality is not just a buzzword but a reality.