Jordan’s young women graduates are finding jobs through a voucher project that pays the first six months of their salaries to employers willing to hire them.
Camera woman Dana Smillie and I met up with some of the new graduates who benefited from the “Jordan Now” pilot project which the World Bank finances. We were in Jordan as part of a video mission to document gender issues around the world.
22-year-old Khawla Husni is one of the women benefiting from the voucher project which helped her get an accounting job in Jordan’s southern city of Irbid where she lives. She told us that her father had paid for her to study accounting at a two-year community college and that he was in favor of her career ambitions. But she said many other Jordanian fathers would not be so supportive due to cultural norms in the conservative kingdom which often discourage young women from working.
“It was hard to find a job because not everyone likes this idea” she said. “I tried in several places before finding this.”
She now works five days a week from 9 to 2 at the minimum wage of 150 Jordanian dinars a month, or about 211 U.S. dollars.
Under the Jordan Now pilot project, 900 women graduates of the country’s two-year community colleges were picked at random. 300 got vouchers paying the first six months of their salaries at professional jobs found on their own, 300 got training in employment skills and 300 got both.
Ibrahim Borini of Dajani Consulting helped implement the pilot. He said a media campaign around the project was leading to wider acceptance of women in Jordan’s work field.
“The campaign created awareness among people that women are studying and it is therefore normal that they work and be self providers,” he said.
The World Bank’s early results of the pilot show the salary vouchers have already induced a 39% rise in female employment and that 57% of women expect to keep their jobs after their vouchers expire.
24- year old Beyaan Sajeea majored in special education at a community college in Ajloun in northern Jordan. With a project voucher she got a job in Amman teaching at a school for children with special needs. We caught up with her there, long after the voucher had expired.
“I worked here six months with the voucher and then they liked me and saw I was capable and that I have skills and so they decided to keep me and give me a contract to continue,” she said.
She told us she spent most of her monthly salary of 150 dinars on transportation back and forth from her home but that it was worth it just to be working at a job she’d studied for and loved.