|12 February, 2020

Jordanian women unite to formulate Labour Law recommendations

The gathering discussed Article 29 of the Labour Law, dealing with sexual harassment and violence at the workplace

AMMAN — Women activists, unionists and civil society representatives met on Wednesday to prepare recommendations on two articles of the draft Labour Law regarding sexual harassment and the right of women to work in the profession they choose.

The gathering discussed Article 29 of the Labour Law, dealing with sexual harassment and violence at the workplace, as well as Article 69, which lists restrictions placed on women in terms of working hours and professions.

Participants also listed articles that take into consideration maternity protection and protection from violence and harassment for employees, interns and clients.

The women groups and unionists were taking part in a one-day workshop organised by Women as Partners in Progress, part of a project that was implemented by World of Letters, an educational consultant, in collaboration with Jo Womenomics.

Founder and CEO of World of Letters Mayyada Abu Jaber said the meeting was organised because the two articles in the draft Labour Law were opened under the Dome, “so we decided to invite the private sector, unionists and other NGOs to hear their voices and comments to submit them to Parliament before they are discussed”.

“We want to form a lobby group to push for changes that will hopefully boost women’s participation in the labour market,” Abu Jaber told The Jordan Times.

She noted that the participants proposed “a clear text in Article 29 that defines what sexual harassment is and dealing with it by imposing strict punishments against perpetrators legally, without forcing the woman to leave her workplace”.

Meanwhile, Article 69 currently prohibits women from working in sectors such as mining, excludes pregnant and nursing women from certain jobs where they might be exposed to toxins and prohibits women from working after 10pm at night, with exceptions in specific sectors.

The recommendations included cancelling Article 69 altogether and incorporating a new article that calls for gender equality at work and bans discrimination, which lessens equal employment opportunities.

Another recommendation called for the labour minister to issue instructions ensuring that women are protected in certain jobs and while working at night during pregnancy.

Solidarity is Global Institute Executive President Asma Khader said that it is important “to admit that we have problems in the labour sector such as sexual harassment and discrimination against working women”.

“It is important to provide proper legal protection for women to ensure that they are protected while at work and to ensure that victims of sexual harassment are not held accountable,” Khader, a lawyer, told The Jordan Times.

Reem Aslan, Gender Specialist for the International Labour Organisation, told The Jordan Times that the workshop was “quite timely” as the draft Labour Law is currently being reviewed by the Parliamentary Labour Committee.

“It was also a great opportunity to conduct a social dialogue among all stakeholders while referring to international labour standards,” Aslan added.

“We were glad to see that all entities, which included government officials, company representatives, trade union members and civil society representatives, are joining hands to uphold the suggested texts, which will be shared with Parliament for consideration,” she said.

Former Deputy and Private Sector Economy Expert Reem Badran, who took part in a panel that discussed Article 69, said that the rate of women’s participation in the labour market is “very low”.

Government figures indicated that, in 2019, women’s participation in the labour market stood at around 14 per cent.

“I believe these two articles, if amended the way we want, will hopefully enhance women’s participation in the labour market,” Badran told The Jordan Times.

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