Queen meets members of the Arab Women Labour Affairs Committee

Queen Rania stresses importance of increasing opportunities for women

July 13, 2007

(Jordan Times, Petra - Amman) Her Majesty Queen Rania, honorary president of the Arab Women Labour Affairs Committee (AWLAC), underlined the need to increase job openings for women and raise their awareness about joining the labour market.
During a meeting with the AWLAC members, she stressed the importance of cooperation among Arab countries to expand women’s participation in the labour market.
The meeting, attended by Labour Minister Bassem Salem and Arab Labour Organisation Director General Ahmad Lukman, was within the AWLAC programme which began here on Tuesday.
Although investments of Arab countries in women’s education is steadily growing, the yielded benefits are still low, the Queen told the AWLAC officials. “This is evident in the low percentage of women in the workforce,” she said. 
In 1997, the ratio of women in the workforce reached 14.2 per cent, up from 7.7 per cent in 1979. The Kingdom’s well-trained and highly-skilled labour force is viewed as a valuable asset to the country and to the region.
Stressing the need to intensify efforts to enhance women’s participation in the workforce, the Queen acknowledged that this drive requires time and a change in misconceptions in this regard.
The three-day meetings, organised by the Arab Labour Organisation, in cooperation with the Labour Ministry, focused on the role of civic society institutions in the economic empowerment of women and other labour issues.
The AWLAC comprises representatives of Bahrain, Qatar, Egypt, Oman, Palestine, Kuwait, Algeria, Mauritania, in addition to Jordan.
Prime Minister Marouf Bakhit also met with Lukman who briefed him on the organisation’s plans and strategies to address the challenges facing the Arab world, foremost of which are the high rates of unemployment in some Arab countries.
Recent Labour Ministry figures indicate that more than 200,000 of the national workforce are women, the majority of whom come from impoverished families.
According to official estimates, unemployment in Jordan stands at almost 15 per cent, while one-fifth of the country’s 5.5 million-strong population lives below the poverty line.