Jordan: Legal reforms can close gender pay gap in private education sector

Stark pay gap in the education sector must be addressed through legal reforms, according to National Steering Committee on Pay Equity (NSCPE) and the International Labour Organization (ILO)

News | 19 May 2013
Contact(s): Nisreen Bathish Abou Ragheb, Jordan Communications Officer, (e):, (m):+962799048012
AMMAN (ILO News) – A new study on pay discrimination in private schools and universities in Jordan has found a stark pay gap between women and men and put forward legal amendments to promote equal remuneration for all workers.

While the gender pay gap exists across several sectors, the study found female teachers working in private schools earn 41.6 per cent less than their male counterparts, while the pay gap falls to 23.1 per cent at the university level.

Amongst schools teachers, the average monthly wage for men is 435 JOD and 254 JOD for women – even though many of them perform the same work. In universities, average earnings rise to 540 JOD and 415 respectively.

The ILO and the NSPCE commissioned the research along with a legal review that found contradictions and gaps in Jordan’s legal framework on pay equity. Current laws fall short of requirements set by international standards, including the ILO’s Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100).

The findings were unveiled at a meeting attended by worker, employer, civil society, professional association and international donor representatives in Amman on Sunday (May 19), under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal and attended by Minister of Labour and Minister of Transport Dr Nidal Katamine.

“The problem of the gender pay gap cannot be resolved unless we change social values that undermine women’s work. The challenge is to examine and eventually overcome complex stereotypes that affect the lives of all women and those around them,’’ said HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal.

Social drivers of unequal pay

According to the research, pay discrimination is often fuelled by widespread perceptions of the private education sector as involving “effortless” work that is “suitable” for women. Men are considered the main breadwinners and are therefore seen as entitled to higher remuneration resulting from benefits such as family allowances (which are not granted to women). Furthermore, the study found that women are less likely to complain about unequal treatment due to lack of awareness of their rights or fear for losing their jobs. They also tend to have greater family responsibilities and shorter career spans, which plays a role in preventing their promotion and benefits.

Occupational segregation, where a high concentration of women work in lower paid jobs and a narrower range of sectors, also plays a role in the pay gap. Women constitute 88 per cent of the workforce in private schools and an estimated 30 per cent in private universities. In both cases, men hold more managerial jobs than women.

“The study shows the urgent need to deal with this problem. The first step is to produce a binding legal text. We will also look at some of the options discussed today, such as enhancing the inspection process and introducing penalties,” said Asma Khader, Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW).

Legal frameworks

Although Jordan ratified the ILO Equal Remuneration Convention, 1951 (No. 100) in 1966 and the Discrimination (Employment and Occupation) Convention, 1958 (No. 111) in 1963, the provisions of these Conventions have not yet been articulated in Jordanian law.

Provisions relating to the principle of equal pay for work of equal value are markedly absent from Jordanian legislation. The law does not explicitly bar discrimination in employment, which establishes the right of men and women to equal pay, nor does it sanction any party as a result of failure to abide by the principle of pay equity. Additionally, prescribed maternity leave periods are not consistent with other pieces of legislation.

“Jordanian laws do not deal with the issue of pay equity. So our main role now is legislative,” said Labour Ministry Secretary General Hamada Abu Nijmeh. ''The legal study proposes legal amendments, and we hope that by working with the private sector we will be able to achieve our goal of pay equity for all."


The NSPCE and the ILO have called for legal amendments to enshrine the principle of equal remuneration, to provide maternity protection guarantees as well as safeguards against sexual harassment and to ensure respect for other work and family responsibilities. Family and other allowances must also be paid to woman employees on an equal basis with men.

“Jordan is once again paving the way. In this time of critical transition in the Arab world, pay equity is a crucial cornerstone of social justice and the inclusive development that we must all work towards,’’ said ILO Regional Director for the Arab States, Ms Nada al-Nashif.

Other recommendations include expanding career options and promoting skills acquisition and training for women, increasing information on job opportunities, wages and working conditions for women, improving social security and social protection (including equalising the pension age, increasing maternity leave periods, and making childcare more accessible), enhancing occupational health and safety measures, promoting the participation of women in workers’ and employers’ organizations, and strengthening labour inspection.