3rd July 2019, Ms. Rania Hayyouk, the Executive Director of the National Association for Family Empowerment, announced the success of the Economic Empowerment for Women and Youth Project in the remote areas of the northern and central Jordan Valley. Launched in July 2018 with the partnership of Mennonite Economic Development Association (MEDA), the project has contributed to increased integration of marginalized women and youth into economic activities and the labor market through Savings and Loan Groups (SLGs). The project has led to the formation of 141 SLGs, reaching 2,675 individuals across the northern and central Jordan Valley. The members of the program have begun to establish small home-based projects that are contributing to the improvement of their economic conditions. All participants were trained on financial literacy, home-based and small business development, life and soft skills, and savings methodologies. NAFE’s outreach primarily targets the communities of Karima, Mishara, Sheikh Hussein, Tel Arbaeen, Harawieh, Dirar Bin Azur, Sweema, Sakana, Jufa and Al-Rawdah in the northern and central regions of the Jordan Valley.
When the project is completed in May 2020, NAFE expects to have reached over 5,000 marginalized women and youth. This will contribute to a reduced unemployment rate, increased economic participation, and an abundance of home-based projects. The sustainability of increased capital inflow and business prospects will inevitably lead to a more efficient integration and acceptance of women leading and succeeding within their economic communities.
An important part of NAFE’s implementation of the Economic Empowerment for Women and Youth Project is the partnership with ten NAFE affiliated Community-Based Organizations. The ten business support hubs created under the partnership give the project capacities and outreach potential that could not be achieved alone. With this grass-roots approach, NAFE is able to integrate women and youth communities into economic activities at the local and national levels. The business support hubs train them on SLG methodologies, financial literacy, and the development of small home-based businesses. This also includes training groups to educate members on how to best respond to gender-based violence. The hope of our training is not only to provide methods to counter gender-based violence, but to help women raise awareness in their communities about the importance of women’s equal participation in the economy and women’s safety in society. In addition, the project links savings groups with Microfinance Institutions and grants providers so that beneficiaries are able to proceed in establishing or expanding their start ups and engage more in local economic activities.
Looking forward, NAFE plans to design youth initiatives for the upcoming stages of the Economic Empowerment for Women and Youth Project. These initiatives will aim to raise awareness of the importance of youth inclusion in economic activities in local communities. This inclusion of youth, combined with the added production of women will lead to the overall improvement of economic activities in these communities. Additionally, this will empower women to expand their political, economic and civic rights, showing how important good community is when confronting discrimination within Jordan. A number of cultural and social activities, such as interactive theater, will be organized through the program aimed at enhancing the status of women in public life and increasing their economic participation.
NAFE plans to organize a number of roundtable discussions during the month of August to discuss economic barriers to women and youth engagement in economic empowerment programs in the Jordan Valley region. Roundtables will be attended by relevant stakeholders, policy makers and members of parliament. Our goal is to show them project achievement and impact, success, lessons learned, challenges, with the hope of recommendations for future interventions.