Just over a year ago, sitting around the table at the Vital Voices Policy Advocates workshop (pictured above), we had to make an important choice: which women’s rights issue should we tackle in Jordan?
Since several of us are working mothers facing the daily challenges of balancing work and home, it became clear to us that there was a need to create friendlier working environments for women. This would help us not only maintain our careers, even after having children, but also to attain leadership positions at work.
To our surprise, we found that Article 72 of the Jordanian Labor Law requires companies and organizations in Jordan with more than 20 women employees to establish daycares on their premises for their employees’ children, and cater to at least 10 children under the age of four. However, the law had not been widely enforced: most workplaces in Jordan did not, and still don’t, comply with this law.
We believe that establishing daycares will allow women to be more productive at work and will help them retain their jobs. If implemented, this important law could contribute towards increasing the percentage of women in the workforce and boosting economic participation. That’s why we founded SADAQA, a campaign that specifically advocates for better compliance with Article 72.
SADAQA has leveraged traditional and social media to raise awareness for our campaign on a national level. Our Facebook page today has over 1,000 friends, and our team members have made appearances on radio and TV, like the popular morning television program Donya ya Donya, and in magazines and newspapers. We also created a Twitter account, @sadaqajo, to connect with an even greater audience. While preparing Jordan’s shadow report for the CEDAW Committee at the UN in Geneva, team member Randa Naffa had the chance to speak about Article 72 and the SADAQA campaign with members of the Committee.
We were thrilled last December when we were invited to join a task force, which includes the Ministry of Labor, the Ministry of Social Development, the Jordan National Commission for Women, the Social Corporation Commission, Save the Children, and the National Council for Family Affairs – a policy organization responsible for mobilizing national support for policies, legislation, procedures and programs relevant to the family. This task force intends to raise funds to set up quality, affordable daycares, and the Ministry of Social Development is now in the process of issuing a new set of more flexible daycare guidelines.
This spring, SADAQA will organize an advocacy walk around this issue with the support of the Ministry of Labor. We will also expand our social media campaigning to generate more buzz, including producing videos highlighting the campaign’s activities and featuring success stories of companies providing daycares.
We dream of the day when we will achieve full compliance and recognition of Article 72 throughout Jordan. We believe that it will lead to the enforcement of other equitable human resource policies and practices, so that working mothers can progress in their careers and contribute to Jordan’s economic growth.
Thank you for your support, Vital Voices!