AMMAN — Figures related to women’s participation in economic activities remain “small” in Jordan with no noticeable advances recorded during the last two years, according to a report issued on Sunday.

Women’s engagement in the local workforce stood at around 14.1 per cent in 2012, down from 14.7 per cent in 2011, compared to an average of 30 per cent in Arab and third world countries, and 50 per cent globally, noted the report, prepared by the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW).

Jordan ranked last among 139 countries in the 2010 Global Competitiveness Report in terms of women’s economic participation, according to the report, published on the occasion of International Women’s Day. 

“This shows the ineffectiveness of efforts exerted to improve women’s presence in economic life,” the report said. 

Moreover, unemployment among women reached 19.9 per cent at the end of 2012, compared with 10.4 per cent among men, while the global average of unemployed women stood at 6.4 per cent.

“Although the gender equality issue has made many gains, it is very unfortunate that the world as a whole is still unfair towards women, and today they still suffer tremendously from bad services or complete deprivation,” HRH Princess Basma, president of the JNCW, said at the report’s launch ceremony.

Stressing the need to continue challenging the status quo to realize equality, she noted that the report highlights discrimination against women through practices and the application of laws.

The princess noted that “inspiring change”, which is the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day, does not necessarily come from famous or strong people, but can also come from ordinary women who decide to improve their quality of life.

The report, which examines women’s status from economic, social and cultural perspectives in the years 2012 and 2013, included examples of success stories in which women have defied the odds to become pioneers in all sectors.

The report noted that women’s participation in administrative bodies of professional associations is “very humble” with no woman heading a labour union, while only 25 per cent of women are subscribed to the Social Security Corporation, according to the study.

However, there were some positive health indicators during the past two years, such as a decline in the birth rate and women’s mortality, according to the report, which also highlighted women’s cultural achievements, such as ranking first regionally in using the Internet and constituting 44 per cent of Internet users in the Kingdom.

Regardless of the roadblocks, JNCW Secretary General Asma Khader cited progress in the area of women’s empowerment in Jordan, noting that there was only one female judge in 1996 and now there are many, while women constitute 35.5 per cent of municipal council members.

“Several laws have been amended recently for the benefit of women, such as the Civil Retirement Law, which now gives widows the right to combine their pensions with that of their husbands and bequeath their pensions to their families after death,” she said.

During the ceremony, “Tawazon” (Balance), a play produced by the National Centre for Culture and Arts with the support of the Norwegian embassy in Amman, was performed, depicting the problems facing women and their quest for freedom.