Making quality jobs a reality for all: Highlights from Jordan’s Better Work Forum

2 Aug 2018

Better Work Jordan hosts a high-level discussion on the future of the garment industry in the country.

2 August 2018

Amman  – Discussions at a high-level meeting on Jordan’s garment industry have centred on quality job creation, sustainable and inclusive growth and the need for greater representation for women in leadership positions in the workforce. The tenth Multi-Stakeholders Forum, hosted by Better Work Jordan on August 2nd, brought together ambassadors, representatives of government ministries, development organizations, unions and private institutions to share the latest research findings and policy developments on labour issues in the industry.

Addressing the meeting, Jordan’s Minister of Labour, Sameer Murad, outlined the government’s strategy to promote employment opportunities in the country. “We will concentrate our efforts in developing skills and technical knowledge that match the labour market’s needs. Only through empowering our human resources, can we strengthen our middle class, grow our economy and combat unemployment.”

Yasmeen Khriesat, attending on behalf of the Minister of Industry, Trade and Supply, described the ministry’s efforts to support businesses and accelerate investment. “The government has managed to boost the competitiveness of several sectors, balancing between the promotion of local raw materials and the facilitation of imports,” she said. “These are the types of activities that help create backward linkages and overcome many challenges in the economy.”

Paths to fostering inclusiveness, boosting productivity and ensuring decent working conditions for workers in line with United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 8, were also canvassed at the forum. The Acting Deputy Chief of Mission of the US Embassy in Jordan, Dr. Jim Barnhart, stressed the role of the United States (US)-Jordanian Free Trade Agreement in enhancing labour conditions and creating employment opportunities in Jordan. He noted that the agreement facilitated US$3.6 billion in bilateral trade last year and helped improve labour standards, strengthen labour law compliance and protect workers in Jordan.

Along with the US, The European Union’s (EU) Head of Trade and Economic section, Olfa Alouini took part in the discussion and shared the delegation’s vision on Jordan’s economic outlook. “In the coming years, Jordan will rely on sustainable economic growth, higher productivity and technological innovation.” she said.

In light of the EU-Jordan agreement on the relaxed rules of origin, the EU’s partnership with Better Work Jordan will build on lessons and successes from the garment sector to cover the broader industrial sector, as highlighted by Alouini, “Through (the EU’s) development assistance, we work with the government and the private sector to encourage the creation of decent jobs for all people living in Jordan.”

Another focus of the discussion was on gender equality in the workplace. Finding ways to promote women to leadership roles, reduce sexual harassment and close the gender pay gap are all elements of Better Work Jordan’s strategy and also part of the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) “Women at Work” Centenary Initiative. The Dutch Ambassador to Jordan, Her Excellency Barbara Joziasse, stressed the importance of gender mainstreaming, “Those who are familiar with me know my firm belief in women’s participation in the economy and its benefit on improving the country as a whole.”

Elaborating on the recent Dutch cooperation policy, she emphasized “The Kingdom of the Netherlands is a proud promoter of economic empowerment. We recognize the social and practical challenges that women face while entering the labour market. We take this seriously. Women empowerment, both economically and socially, is incorporated in our strategy and projects for sustainable economic development in Jordan.”

Adding to the discussion on the future of the garment sector Mr. Fathallah Al-Omarani, President of Jordan’s General Trade Union of Workers in Textile, Garment and Clothing Industries provided insights on the union’s activities for the year in line with Jordan’s Economic Growth Plan 2018-2022. “Better working conditions increase profit at garment factories, which is why it is essential to formulate effective partnerships with key stakeholders in the industry that further ensure that all standards of compliance are met.”

The forum is a unique opportunity for stakeholders to convene and create positive action that improves working and promotes fair employment, as highlighted by Sami Soufan, a World Bank Finance and Private Sector Analyst, “In the past couple of years, we have worked closely with Better Work Jordan and the various government stakeholders to encourage growth and economic prosperity in the country. This forum is an excellent opportunity for the stakeholders to exchange knowledge and identify opportunities.”

Better Work – a collaboration between the United Nations’ ILO and the International Finance Corporation, a member of the World Bank Group – brings together all levels of the garment industry to improve working conditions and boost the competitiveness of apparel businesses. Currently active in eight countries reaching more than two million workers, the programme creates lasting change through assessments, training, advocacy, and research.

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