USAID Jordan: Gender Analysis and Assessment

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Executive Summary

·   Significant gender inequalities remain, especially with female participation in economic and political activity and male participation in the education sector

·   While progress has been made, the economic crisis and increasing stratification of society are major challenges to continued development

·   Targeted areas for improvement include:

o   Health

o   Education

o   Economic growth

o   Democracy and governance

o   Water and energy

Key Findings

Education and Enrollment

·   Jordan has eliminated the gender gap in education enrollment, but school dropout is a reality influenced by the need to work for men or family duties for women

·   Women comprise a slightly higher proportion of students in secondary and higher education

·   Boys’ schools suffer from a shortage of teachers and violence against students such that 60% of male students report being subjected to at least mild abuse. Girls’ schools are generally more constructive, as girls are encouraged to succeed in school. Both boys’ and girls’ schools face a shortage of school counselors and often engage in “tracking” for educational plans and career prospects based on gender

·   Lower levels of education hinder female employment more than male employment

·   Only 15% of females (15 and older) are economically active vs. 65% of males. The majority of women who work do so in education, health, or public administration sectors, therefore a downsize in the public sector will have greater effect on women

·   Female labor force participation is low because of cultural factors/ gender stereotyping, employer preference for “more productive” male workers, difficulty for women with hijab to get private sector work, and large female employment in the informal sector

Population and Health

·   Females have a slightly higher life expectancy (74.4 years) vs. men (71.6)

·   Obesity is a serious problem: 70% of females and 63% of males overweight or obese

·   Fairly high fertility rate (3.8) is unexpected in Jordan, due to high levels of female education

·   Jordanian youth face many unmet medical needs and lack of education about reproductive health and family planning matters

·   The shortage of female medical professionals leads women to use alternative, less effective means of family planning

Family Relations

·   According to surveys, women are generally held responsible for reproductive health while men have final decision on children

·   The median age at first marriage has been increasing, 26.1 for women, due to financial instability of young Jordanians

·   40% of women report being married to a relative

·   One third of women surveyed report having experienced gender-based violence

Political Participation

·   Female participation is low: 13 out of 120 seats in parliament, which is only one more seat than mandated by quota

·   Female voting is considered very low because female and male voting percentages are equal, despite a prohibition on members of the Jordanian military (a large employer of men) voting in parliamentary elections

·   Women have held 11% of ministerial portfolios since 1980

·   The number of female judges is low but the participation in this field is increasing

·   Female participation in diplomatic core has quadrupled to 17%

·   The Jordanian constitution is considered to provide for equal rights, according to legal scholars; discrepancy in practice results from social norms and patriarchal traditions

Recommended Actions and Initiatives


·   Encourage constructive male engagement in family planning and reproductive health

·   Re-strategize birth spacing and improve maternal and neo-natal health

·   Continue to focus on preventative and curative health care, especially regarding chronic disease

·   Develop youth-friendly centers for health care to address mental health and substance abuse


·   Discuss gender issues and the school environment with educators

·   Plan parent-involvement activities, where both mother and father are encouraged to attend

·   Assess Ministry of Education’s efforts to correct shortage of male teachers

·   Frame education and at least two years of work as a constructive “weapon” for women

·   Increase internships, job-shadowing, and career fairs for students 

Economic Growth

·   Work with the government and private sector to create a more supportive working environment for women, such as part-time work, home-based business, and harassment prevention

·   Work with the public sector to take gender into account when downsizing

·   Encourage women entrepreneurs in SMEs

·   Address barriers women face when re-entering job market after marriage or child bearing

·   Offer low-collateral lending targeted to women and the poor

Democracy and Governance

·   Increase female and youth involvement in politics

·   Encourage media campaigns that counter gender stereotyping

·   Develop election laws that would provide support to female candidates outside the quota requirement and male candidates a way to avoid problems associated with tribal politics

·   Develop gender-sensitivity training for the justice system and analyze gender differences in access to justice

Water and Energy

·   Target youth for water and energy conservation education

·   Target conservation messages to women as managers of household utility usage


·   Promote public awareness on the need to combat violence

·   Enhance competitiveness and workforce development to alleviate poverty

·   Improve education for youth on matters of nutrition, reproductive health, and psycho-social development


Report Name



USAID Jordan: Gender Analysis and Assessment

March 2012

Not Relevant


Supporting Donor




Lead Ministry

Social Policy


Key Topics

Energy Conservation – Female Education –  Family Planning – Female Political Participation – Fertility Rate – Gender Gap – Gender-based Violence – Gender Quotas – Labor Force Participation – Private Sector Employment – Reproductive health


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