A host of international, governmental and civil society actors in Jordan have all undertaken the difficult challenge of fostering women’s economic empowerment across the Kingdom. Women’s economic empowerment is key to sustainable and inclusive development.
When we think of the “economically empowered” women, however, we often envision a woman going to a market and selling goods for a profit, starting her own business, or leaving her home five days a week to work in an office, and industry, etc…. In either
case, our indicator of economic empowerment relies on a market-oriented concept of productivity that is measured by women’s ability to generate income. This measurement of women’s economic empowerment, unwittingly implies that if women do not generate income, the unpaid care work they provide for their families when they stay at home is of no value.
In the context of Jordan, this report makes us think how this construction of the “economically empowered” woman does not cohere with the realities of impoverished women in Jordan. In fact, for many of the women documented in this report, such a construction of empowerment is irrelevant, impractical, and in the worst cases, contributes to further disempowerment by worsening women’s feelings of self-worth.
Thus, our measurement of women’s economic empowerment, and strategies we use to achieve it, although well-intentioned, remain insufficient.