The Embassy of the Netherlands announces support to a UNESCO-UN Women Joint Programme for rural women’s empowerment in Um el Jimal

The Embassy and UNESCO signed today an MOU to support a UNESCO-UN Women Joint Programme for the reinforcement of rural women’s social and economic rights in Um el Jimal (Mafraq Governorate)

Amman, 27 July 2015 – Mr. Paul van den IJssel, the Netherlands Ambassador to Jordan, and Ms Costanza Farina, UNESCO Representative to Jordan met today at the Embassy of the Netherlands in Amman to sign the Memorandum of Understanding that will support the UNESCO – UN Women Joint Programme for rural women’s empowerment through culture in Um el Jimal (Mafraq Governorate).

The contribution is part of the Netherlands’ Human Rights Fund to promote human rights and support initiatives aimed at the improvement of political, civil, economic, cultural and social rights within the strategy ‘Justice and Respect for All’. Positioned on the Tentative List of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the archaeological site of Um el Jimal was identified as one of the best locations for investment on preservation and socio-economic development initiatives in Jordan. In close coordination with the Department of Antiquities and building on this potential, UNESCO and UN Women have joined forces and maximised their respective added values to create beneficial synergies in Um el Jimal, using culture as a source of resilience and targeting women’s empowerment. The UN Joint Programme supports a range of needed cultural tourism services on site, including handicrafts production, hospitality services and heritage information and education activities, which will encourage tourists’ access and use of the site, while bringing tourism incomes to the local community. This area is one of the poverty pockets in Jordan and has been severely affected by the impact of the Syria crisis.

The Programme builds on a first pilot implementation phase, started in 2014, which laid the basis for the production of unique basalt handicrafts carved according to traditional, local techniques in the native stone of the Haurani plateau and typical of the archaeological site of Um el Jimal. Local talented women produce fine basalt jewellery and decorative objects that symbolize their local culture and history and that can be sold to shops and tourists as original, handmade souvenirs from the area.

Co-funded by UN Women, the UN Joint Programme is part of the Jordan Response Plan that addresses the spill over effects of the Syria crisis, and will support vulnerable women in the host community.

For more information on the project contact Dr. Angela Atzori at a.atzori(at)unesco.org