Jurf Al Darawish Women’s Association Challenges Norms, Empowers CommunityJun 10, 2017
In an explicitly poor “Jurf Al-Darawish”, 30 minutes away by car from the city of Tafileh, a voluntary-based women association is doing its best to make a difference in the lives of the local community, especially women, despite of resistance from society and the difficult economic situation.
this work made me stronger, more confident and capable of dealing with other people properly
Um Ahmad, the head of Jurf Al-Darawish Women’s Association which works with the local community to promote voluntary work and build capacity of people, applied to the project “Promoting Local Economic Development in Jordan (PLEDJ), which is funded by the European Delegation to Jordan, to secure a capital of money that can help empower local women and create jobs for them.
Her idea was to establish a dairy factory that gives necessary training for women to make dairy products since Jurf Al-Darawish is famous for milk production from goats and sheep. The fund was used to purchase and set up basic equipment. Training local women came next.
After being accepted into the PLEDJ project, some of the members of the association received business training to help them run the factory and take care of finance and management. A technical training in dairy production was also provided to 20 women out of which 6 have started working in the factory.
Building Resilience..Empowering Women
Resistance from within the community could not stop Um Ahmad from standing by her business and colleagues. It is uncommon for women in Jurf Al-Darawish to work outside of their homes, which meant that Um Ahmad and other members of the association had to fight until they are accepted not only as equals but also as working mothers and daughters who contribute to the household income.
Alia Khawaldeh, one of the 6 local women who works at the factory, says “this work made me stronger, more confident and capable of dealing with other people”. “Most of us were forced to drop out of school at some point, it feels great to learn new skills and be able to work” she adds.
“I have benefited greatly from participating in this project; I’m gaining work experience and improving my income at the same time”, says Zakieh Al-Marafa’h who works at the factory too. Every one of the 6 ladies make nearly 200 JDs a month during milk production season, which lasts for nearly 3 months.
700-800 kg of milk enters the factory every day from local farmers and goes into making the traditional Jordanian butter (samneh) and Jameed.
The factory’s production is distributed mainly in Tafileh, which doesn’t generate enough money for the women especially that they are facing competition from farmers. However, an agreement was made with Ruyana, an association based in Amman, to distribute their products in the capital city.
Even though the business is less than one year old, it has proved itself profitable as it is generating enough revenues to cover all its expenses.
It is worthy of mention that the program “Promoting Local Economic Development in Jordan” (PLEDJ) is funded by the European Delegation to Jordan managed by the Ministry of Interior and implemented by UNDP. It aims at fostering two sectors in the governorates of Ajloun and Tafileh: Small-Scale Food Processing and Tourism Services.