Cancelled train on your commute to work this morning? Perhaps you were caught up in a tedious email chain? There’s no doubt we all feel the daily stresses of our nine-to-five, but in some parts of the world, not everyone has the privilege of employment.
Historically, women have been more affected by unemployment than men, with recent statistics showing some of the highest unemployment rates for women are in the Middle East. In fact, unemployment for women in Jordan is around 33% in urban areas – and even higher in rural areas.
Enter the Iraq Al-Amir Women’s Cooperative, a small organisation in the municipality of Amman, which aims to financially empower local women by employing them to learn, make and sell foods and handicrafts in the cooperative’s gift shop and online.
Not only does the array of handmade pottery, fabrics, foods, and paper products on offer help to keep local traditions alive, but the training involved has seen more than 150 women from surrounding villages learn the necessary skills to increase their income and raise their standard of living.
Founded in 1993, the cooperative has since created a number of job opportunities for women of all ages, with global partnerships helping to consistently grow and improve the organisation. Having recently joined forces with the TreadRight Foundation, the cooperative has been able to expand its services, while allowing Trafalgar guests the opportunity to visit the women through our JoinTrafalgar programme and see their work in action.
One half of travel blog, SoulTravel, Ellie Cleary recently visited the cooperative on behalf of Trafalgar and explains the impact on both the local women and their visitors.
“When we visited Iraq Al Amir, we found that the interactions we had with the people helped us to connect so easily, and provided us with the perspective of how travel really matters and what a difference it can make to their daily lives. The interactions were so positive and inspirational; it was a positive exchange of learnings on both sides.”
With the TreadRight Foundation’s ongoing support, the organisation is hoping to continue to provide materials for the handicrafts, extend the on-site gift shop with the added assistance of a merchandising expert and grow their food services – ensuring stable employment for more women in the area and helping to bridge the gap to equality.
“[The women] are really inspirational to their own local communities, they are local heroes… With more outside visitors coming to Iraq Al-Amir, the women have got more respect from the men in the village”, says Ellie.