Open Day to Celebrate Rural Women’s Achievements

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Under the patronage of Her Highness Sharifa Zein AlSharaf bint Nasser, the Chairperson of the Board of Trustees of the Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia, the Fund celebrated the progress of the Medicinal Plant project in Sabha, Al-Mafraq with an Open Day on Saturday 15 October. The Medicinal Plant project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development through a grant from the USAID Civic Initiatives Support Program implemented by FHI 360.

The Open Day began with a welcoming speech from the Fund’s Director, Dr. Raed Al-Tabini, to the guests, which included people from the community, successful female role models from the Badia, and USAID staff. Ms. Bothyna Frehat from the Jordanian National Commission for Human Rights then gave a lecture on women’s rights in business under the Jordanian law, emphasising that a community cannot grow when half of its population is prevented from sharing in the work. Abeer and Anoud (a female Syrian refugee), both employees of the project, spoke about the achievements and what the project means to them, followed by Reem, an employee of the United States Forest Service Nursery project which runs alongside the USAID Medicinal Project. Um Akram then spoke and served as a brilliant example of a female entrepreneur from the Badia that has overcome significant hurdles to generate an income and provide a better life for herself and her children. Her work has been further supported through a small loan from the Hashemite Fund. Guests were then treated to a tea-tasting session using the leaves from the plants grown in the project, and gave their feedback on the flavour and quality of the tea to support product improvement. The day ended with guests sharing lunch together after the women gave them a tour of the site and presented the components of the project, which included the greenhouse, storage and sewing and packaging area. It was a day full of joy and excitement, and gave a great opportunity to celebrate the power of women in growing Jordan’s Badia.

The project employs seven Jordanian women full-time and has created opportunities for frequent seasonal work for at least four female Syrian refugees. To date, two greenhouses have been established, with indigenous and traditional herbs such as wild mint, thyme, rosemary and sage being planted and monitored by the women in the first. The women have just begun learning how to sew packaging to sell the herbs, such as teabags, to properly preserve the goods and ensure their marketability. After sufficient training and empowerment efforts, the women will form an independent cooperative with their own brand to sell their products, with the ultimate goal of being self-sustaining and expanding to employ further women and men from the community.

The Open Day coincided with the United Nation’s International Day of Rural Women, held each year on October 15 to, “recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, including its indigenous women, in enhancing agricultural and rural development, improving food security and eradicating poverty.” The Hashemite Fund for Development of Jordan Badia recognises the key role that rural women play in supporting their households and community through bolstering economic security, generating income, and improving rural livelihoods and overall well-being. Encouraging women’s participation in the workforce not only empowers the people of Jordan and equips them with new skills, but also links women to both the local and global economies. It is important to the Hashemite Fund to support their livelihoods and create opportunities that celebrate the strengths of women, while highlighting cultural values and heritage, and preserving Jordan’s natural resources.