Women in Business in Jordan
In Jordan, around 370,000 Palestinian refugees live – mostly in poverty – in makeshift camps.
34-year-old Jordanian local, Basma, wanted to support the most vulnerable group within that population: the women.
Simply as a result of being a woman, the majority of the female refugees have limited education and lack basic life skills. Many families force their daughters to marry early, leading to an increase in child brides. Although the women are able to work, 80 per cent of them are forced to remain in their homes due to the patriarchal social norms.
With business training and a grant from CARE, ‘Threads’, was born – a social enterprise in which Basma hires women in refugee camps to produce hand embroidered products. She provides them with embroidery courses, after which they create different product lines.
“Once they have completed the courses,” Basma explains, “We help the women in marketing and branding the different product lines to sell worldwide. It has taken a lot of time to change the women from beginners to experts, but now we are reaching 15 countries around the world through this initiative.
The revenue from the sales of the products is then used to fund more courses and initiatives within the camp. “Along with the financial benefits came a sense of contribution and a spark of hope that outcomes will change for future generations. Threads connected the heart of the camp with the rest of the world in an attempt to increase equality and promote awareness. People are buying the story behind the product more than the product itself.”
Threads has also helped change men’s attitudes towards women. “Not all men believe in women. Men put many restrictions on them and it is really difficult. We tried to speak many times to men but it was not successful. We could only change their mentality when they saw that the women and daughters are earning an income. I changed the women from a financial burden to their families to a financial source of income and this has changed their lives.”
“Business is never successful without ongoing training. The CARE training was amazing with step by step guidance on important skills, with an experienced mentor. I also learnt about public speaking which is important for my enterprise.”
Basma has recently been selected as a role model by CARE Jordan to tour the country and inspire other women who are thinking of setting up their own businesses: “I want to encourage women to start their own business. I want to help as many women as possible and empower them socially, culturally and economically.”