Aqaba, Jordan, 8 March 2023 – USAID’s Women’s Economic Empowerment and Leadership Activity (Makanati) and Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) celebrated International Women’s Day and kicked off a series of activities supporting Aqaba as a “City Friendly to Women’s Work.” Over 100 representatives from government entities, the private sector, and the community joined to identify key priorities, challenges, and opportunities for women’s economic engagement, employment, and leadership, especially in the private sector.
“USAID, through programs such as Makanati, is proud to support this unique partnership. We hope that together we can achieve the vision you have for the future of Aqaba and, in the process, bring a strategic focus to the contributions women can make at all levels of economic activity and employment. That’s why we are happy to be part of today’s event to celebrate to declare Aqaba ‘A City Friendly to Women’s Work,’” said Rebecca Acuna, Deputy Director of USAID Economic Development and Energy Office, in an address to the city’s representatives.
“This partnership that ASEZA has forged with USAID Makanati is an indication of our commitment and investment to achieve a holistic vision touching all elements of living and working in this city in order to encourage and ensure that Jordanian women take their rightful place and status as economic participants, as employers and as employees,” said His Excellency Nayef Hmeidi Al Fayez, ASEZA Chief Commissioner who patronized the event.
During the weeklong schedule of events, USAID Makanati launched activities at the community and private sector levels, including capacity building activities for 20 Aqaba community champions on equal opportunity and women’s empowerment and inclusion. USAID Makanati also held dialogue sessions on the relationship between increased economic participation of women and increased economic growth, highlighting the positive impact of inclusion and diversity on business performance and productivity. Another dialogue session focused on the private sector’s role in improving the integration of women through addressing challenges contributing to women’s marginalization and decreased economic participation.
During the event, USAID Makanati announced the launch of its annual grants program seeking innovative initiatives in Aqaba to support an enabling environment for women’s work.
This support, through USAID Makanati, is funded through the U.S.-Jordanian Memorandum of Understanding for economic development and fosters the equitable and sustainable economic participation of women in line with the Government of Jordan’s Economic Modernization Vision.
EnCompass LLC implements USAID’s five-year (2021-2026), $30 million Makanati project in Jordan to help strengthen the country’s enabling environment, increase women’s waged employment in the private sector, and increase their leadership in both the public and private sectors. To achieve these goals, EnCompass works with USAID to engage various actors at the national and local levels to form a complex, interlinked, mutually reinforcing sphere that eventually feeds into improved access to jobs and leadership opportunities, more equitable work environments, and more hospitable social norms.
Photo by: USAID Makanati | Women’s Economic Empowerment and Leadership Activity (Makanati)