The Struggle

By Ali Asfour
Grade 8
American Community School (ACS)

Amman, Jordan, Right smack in the middle of the Middle East. An Arab country. A developing country with modern industry and a few towering skyscrapers. A great melting pot, just like New York. Jobs and education. An emerging country with an emerging economic situation. The time period, 2011 to now. The traffic is unreal, driving your kids back home. Then you had to take them places. The side effect of this is that you always had to scramble as fast as you could back to work. The stress, you get used to it after a while. Trying to calm kids down not a very successful idea. The phone rang, who is it this time? A million calls a day, that was life, and it still is. One of her best friends calls, of course she answers. An invitation that could possibly change everything.

Sahar Aloul a woman who has interests in different things and has qualities you can't always find  in people. The co-founder of an NGO called SADAQA, which was formed by a group of friends who wanted to improve the circumstances for working mothers in Jordan. That was 2011. Now in 2018 the main goal of SADAQA is increasing women's economic participation in Jordan through creating a friendly environment for working women and families. (from the SADAQA official website PDF) Another aim is establishing daycares in the workplace in compliance with article 72 of the Jordanian Labour Law, supporting working families, encouraging women and mothers to enter the job market on one hand and working on eliminating the main barriers that affect women’s participation in the workplace including lack of daycares, transportation, and pay inequity. (link from the SADAQA website PDF)

SADAQA’s mission is to make sure that the people that needed to be helped where helped and this has major benefits to multiple factors in Jordan, including economic growth. Picture this, a mother trying to take care of her child making breakfast, getting him dressed, and racing against the clock to get to work. Then it hits her. Where could she leave her kid? No relatives live nearby, and there is no on site nursery at the workplace. The father was already at work. So the mother needs to find a way to make sure that the child is safe. This hectic life was her downfall. She had to do a million things at once. she contemplates racing to her sister’s house since she lived nearest to her. Then she risked being late to work, and that was never good. Still, she had no choice. Little did she know the amount of time that this would take her.. The traffic was awful, it was as if the cars had suddenly turned into the slowest snails and turtles you could ever imagine. She was so tired. They finally arrived. She handed her child off to her sister at last. Then she plunged back into the traffic-ridden streets. She finally made it to work terrified of what would become of her in the next few minutes. She was an hour and twenty minutes late! Her boss steaming with anger. He scolded her but didn’t fire her, which was a relief. Then, her sister calls. She has to leave the house and is on her to drop off her son at work How would her boss feel about a 2 year old running around the office?

Enter SADAQA: The law that encouraged them to take action was a law that states if a business has 20 women and 10 kids under the age of 4 they should have a nursery at the workplace for the kids. The problem being that this particular law was not being enforced or even being followed in some cases. This was what the team set out to do.

The issue was the employers never even saw and felt the need to put in place Article 72 of the Labour Law since they didn’t see the benefit and the use of an on site nursery.

“We had to convince employers that having a daycare on premises for working mothers and families was to their advantage, as it would increase productivity, decrease turnover, absenteeism and eventually bring up profits,” said Sahar. Some employers had never heard of this law before and never knew that it existed. Now with this new data the team had to think of a clever way to show the employers, that this would be extremely beneficial.

Sahar was one of the team leaders for the project, and worked tirelessly to get the job done. This was of course in addition to shuttling her kids across town while somehow managing to organize a workshop for people who ran nurseries to come up with plans of action and to make sure that they received proper training. You see, for this to work, everyone had to be on the same page. After that there were days and months where they called and called, helping businesses that have the means to set up a nursery, no matter how long,  hard, or tiring of a task. The team pulled through and this was major success.

The work never stops. Sahar still working round the clock again to ensure that everything would got to plan. Lobbying and attending meetings and debates and conferences.

“When we first started our campaign, no one knew about Article 72, the government wasn't interested in applying it, and employers wouldn't hear of it, daycares at the workplace were a faraway dream,” said Sahar.

A dream Sahar was determined to turn into a reality. she set out to find and make a plan of action that would have attainable and thought out processes and solutions.She went to the government hoping to encourage them and coax them into action to implement this law. The way in which she did this was an extremely clever plan to play at the needs of the government. So what Sahar brought up is how this would improve the economy and employ more people in the workforce. The government started to listen.

Another point that Sahar brought up is women's participation in the workforce, which was an issue that the government wanted to tackle. This got them intrigued since they desperately wanted to improve women's participation. A few months and mountains later, the government started to implement the laws.

“Today, we have more than 90 workplace daycares, 50 which we were directly involved in creating, the Ministry of Labour adopted our suggestion of a national framework for the making daycares a public good and spreading it across Jordan, and the International Labour Organization is our closest partner,” said Sahar.

Sahar still lives a hectic life as do all people in Amman, Jordan. The stress of being a mother is still present even though the kids are not that little anymore. That has relieved Sahar tremendously. This is still Sahar’s life, do stuff with the kids and take them places, and then scramble on back to work. Sahar has affected so many people. The effects were mainly positive, that is an undisputable fact.


صداقة "نحو بيئة عمل صديقة للمرأة" إنطلقت عام 2011 لنشر وتفعيل المادة 72 من قانون العمل وزيادة الوعي عند المرأة العاملة وصاحب العمل

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العنوان: شارع الأميرة ثروت الحسن، جوانا سنتر