“Women in Sports”: ILO youth-centred programme promotes decent work in Jordan

Press release | 16 February 2021
In a bid to advance women’s empowerment and decent work in Jordan, the International Labour Organization (ILO) has introduced a programme to train unemployed fresh university graduates with physical education degrees and provide them with secure jobs in the field.

With the recent reopening of gyms and sports facilities following months of COVID-19-induced closure, the “Women in Sports” programme, which started in November 2020, aims at enabling dozens of female graduates and senior students to join these workplaces in April 2021.

The project, which is being implemented in partnership with the Ministry of Youth (MoY) and the Mudarib (coach) company and in coordination with local universities, equips the participants with critical labour market technical and practical skills through intensive training.

“I am learning very necessary skills to become a qualified coach,” said 23-year-old Lujain Al Sharman, who was graduated in 2020 from University of Jordan, in the capital, Amman.

Under its pilot phase, the initiative selected 75 female graduates and senior students out of 200 applicants following rigorous assessments in line with ILO standards.

“The programme helps me prepare mentally and practically to compete in the labour market,” said Rahaf Harb, 21, a senior student at the Hashemite University, northwest of Amman.

Government figures estimate the number of unemployed physical education graduates at 6,500 persons, 68 percent of whom are female.

The MoY says more than 1,200 physical education students are graduated annually.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA) and in collaboration with UNWOMEN, “Women in Sports” is designed to help reduce unemployment, and break misconceptions and stereotypes about women capabilities.

“I am proud of Sweden’s support for, and partnership with, the ILO and the MoY, providing women and youth in Jordan with more (and better) job opportunities,” said Swedish Ambassador to Jordan, Alexandra Rydmark.

“Women make up half of the world’s population, and it is both socially and economically smart to invest in their economic empowerment. Women’s and youth participation in the labour market increases a country’s economic growth,” Rydmark added.

Rights and obligations

The ILO in Jordan works on educating gyms and sports facilities on decent work principles, said Reem Aslan, chief technical advisor, ILO Decent Work for Women Programme in the country.

Aslan, who is also gender technical specialist, welcomed collaboration with the government and the private sector on addressing barriers to female labour force participation, which stands at 18 percent.

“Investing in young people often creates better direct and indirect outcomes for the society and economy, including equal opportunity,” said Aslan.

“Educating young people on workplace rights and obligations is a must,” she added.

Conducting an awareness session for the trainees, she said they “appeared energetic and in high spirits … the training hall was filled with enthusiasm.”

For Tariq Mustapha, 31, founder of Mudarib, “the idea of the initiative is based on building the capacity of the trainees, and help them explore their potential.”

The ILO and the MoY agreed at a recent meeting on the need for skill development programmes for fresh physical education graduates in order to create more jobs in the sector.

“It is important that we support young people and enhance their capabilities through sustainable MoY programmes and partnership with the ILO,” said Minister of Youth, Mohammad Al Nabulsi.

Prior to COVID-19, unemployment rate among young Jordanians was 32 percent, but has increased due to the impact of the pandemic on Jordan, according to the Department of Statistics (DoS).

Unemployment rate for female university graduates is higher (87.2 percent) than that for male university graduates (26 percent), DoS figures show.

For more information, contact:
Reem Aslan
Chief Technical Advisor
Decent Work for Women Programme
International Labour Organization
Email: aslan@ilo.org