Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan: Understanding How Gender Norms in MNA Impact Female Employment Outcomes


"Do women in Jordan want to work? How do men feel about working women in their family? To what extent do personal beliefs and societal expectations influence a woman's decision to work and why should this matter in development interventions?

The Jordanian government and development partners have invested heavily in promoting women's economic inclusion. However, Jordan has the lowest female labor force participation (FLFP) in the world of a country not at war. As development practitioners working on issues related to social and economic inclusion in the Middle East and North Africa (MNA) region, we ask ourselves these questions to help us understand binding constraints that prevent excluded groups, such as women and youth, from having equal opportunity to improve their quality of life. We also ask these questions to distinguish between our own and others' perceived notion of inclusiveness. Building evidence from the field is key to enable development practitioners design more effective interventions to support female labor force participation. 

The study's objective was to measure the extent to which social norms and beliefs concerning gender influence women's access to and participation in the labor market. It aimed at producing insights on what barriers women could be facing, and the extent to which individual beliefs versus social norms play a role. Results of this study contribute measurable evidence to gaps in social norms literature. There are many studies that have looked at structural and institutional barriers as well as identified social norms as a barrier to labor market participation, however many of these do not delve into mechanisms through which norms influence behavior nor do they explore intra-household dynamics in a measurable way. Similarly, others have talked about masculinity, without looking more closely at how it plays out at the household level. In contrast, the Jordan study also examines intra-household dynamics and how expectations of women’s spouse or male relative’s beliefs could be a constraint as well."

Quoted text from the publication (p. 4)