The Productive Kitchen example of economic female empowerment
Intesar and three of her friends started their own business four years ago called ‘The Productive Kitchen.’ Supported by ARDD, the four women run a catering and delivery service out of a house in Zarqa, for events and parties in their community. They produce savory pastries stuffed with cheese, spinach, or meat, Arab sweets, and other traditional foods.“We came up with the idea after seeing how much our guests liked the food we cooked, Intesar explains while unpacking the pizzas that she just prepared.
ARDD has been working on its Women’s Access to Justice II (WAJ) project in Amman and Zarqa governorates of Jordan. Through the project, which is funded by the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Oxfam, ARDD seeks to increase women’s agency through legal services, psychosocial support, and economic empowerment.
As part of the WAJ project, ARDD organized an exhibition for female entrepreneurs to showcase their businesses to connect with more customers and microcredit institutions. The event, which had 140 attendees, provided a platform for women to present their products to the community and develop their economic prospects. “Events like this help us financially, to get more customers and expand our business,” Intesar explains.
All four women explain how her self-confidence has greatly increased since opening her business. They are now able to contribute financially to her family and support her children’s needs. “I feel so much more independent, which was life changing for me. I can spend my money the way I see fit,” Intesar tells proudly. “Also, people in my community now see me as a well-known chef,” she adds with a smile.
Her colleague Aida adds: “We have even started to provide training sessions for other female-run small businesses, to help them achieve the same thing.”
Women’s economic empowerment is an essential component to advancing women’s rights, especially in Jordan. Although Jordan has closed, and even reversed the gender gap in all levels of education, only 16 per cent of Jordanian women participate in the economy, statistics provided by USAID show. Furthermore, in impoverished areas of Jordan, poverty levels can reach 75 per cent and female-headed households are especially likely to be affected .