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Shadia and Sahar: How decent work has changed their lives in Jordan

An almost three-year ILO intervention across six cooperatives in Jordan has brought about tangible changes to the lives of thousands Jordanian and Syrian refugee agricultural workers in Jordan. Listen to the words of Shadia and Sahar on the matter.

Feature | 01 May 2023

IRBID, Jordan (ILO News) – An ILO project in the Jordan Valley has provided vital income for two agricultural workers, Shadia Alawneh from Jordan and Sahar Ruslan, from Syria.

Both their lives have been marked by difficulties and worries concerning how to provide for their children and families, mostly because of the unstable nature of their occasional jobs.

This changed when they started benefitting from the services provided by Jordan’s Kufrsoum Agricultural Cooperative Association, one of the six cooperatives in the country that collaborated with the ILO PROSPECTS programme to establish agricultural career guidance and employment Units (AGEUs) between 2020-2023.

Through the initiative, the ILO accompanied the select cooperatives in facilitating access to decent work opportunities for Jordanian and Syrian agricultural workers. They did so by providing information about labour market opportunities, referring workers to potential employers, offering skills-upgrading opportunities, and assisting them in obtaining or renewing work permits.

Also, with the ILO’s support, the cooperatives have been conducting awareness raising sessions to educate agricultural workers on issues spanning labour laws, labour rights, the benefits of having work permits, the risks of workplace injuries, and occupational safety and health.

The cooperatives also served as platform for the Social Security Corporation (SSC) to organize sessions targeting Jordanian and Syrian agriculture workers to sensitize them on the benefits of social security registration and the various schemes and services available for them, including the multi-donor fund for the extension of coverage, Estidama++.

To further support job seekers, the cooperatives have also been offering career counselling and guidance sessions using ILO tools and manuals.

Through the ILO PROSPECTS intervention in Jordan:
  • Around 6,000 agricultural workers were reached, half of whom are women
  • As many as 5,500 workers have found jobs
  • Over 7,000 work permits were issued to Syrian refugees
  • Some 3,500 participants attended awareness sessions
  • About 1,500 individuals benefitted from career guidance services
  • 33 young men and women attended Think.COOP and Start.COOP training for youth
The project chimed in with Jordan’s national strategy for the cooperative movement that the country launched with the ILO support in 2021. The strategy, which was based on discussions with local and international partners, aims to build a prosperous, autonomous, inclusive and self-reliant cooperative movement in Jordan.

The work with the Jordanian cooperative sector has been guided by the ILO’s Promotion of Cooperatives Recommendation, 2002 (No. 193). This sees cooperatives as an effective way to bolster decent work and sustainable development for all members of society.

Agricultural cooperatives in Jordan play a pivotal role in contributing to the development of local communities in rural areas to advance youth employment, women economic empowerment, and improving livelihoods in the informal economy.

In recent years, they have also acted as an effective intermediary in facilitating Syrian workers’ access to work permits, and in supporting members of host communities. Since 2017, they have taken on new roles and responsibilities to provide Syrian workers not only with flexible work permits, but also with information on legislative policies and procedures, safety and health measures and career guidance.

The project has been implemented within the framework of the PROSPECTS programme, a global partnership supported by the Government of the Netherlands.