Care to work? Policy Considerations for Engaging Jordanian Women in the Workforce


The purpose of this paper is to discuss the challenge of adapting care and family policies to the government of Jordan’s objectives, from economic development goals to maintaining social norms. Motives for interventions seem to signal an interest in gender equity and concerns around child development and family preservation. Indeed, for some, Jordan’s emerging caregiving market (and other liberal policies) might signal an easing in archetypal gendered norms around caregiving, domestic work, and women’s roles inside and outside of the public spheres. However, an analysis of the theory underlying care work and social reproduction along with a review of Jordanian social perceptions—among men and women alike—hints at a potential gap in policy. The paper challenges policymakers to consider the stubborn female labor force participation rate differently. The paper starts by untangling feminist theories around care and work. It then explores Jordan’s specific context regarding norms and perceptions around gender and work and gender and care. From there, it reviews and analyzes Jordan’s policies and presents opportunities for policymaking.