The project capitalises on cultural heritage as a source of resilience for local communities, addressing the acute need for women’s empowerment and job creation.


Umm-el-Jimal Women's Empowerment Project


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Keywords:  Women    Art    Sustainability    Tourism    Food 


Preservation, Use and re-use

Minorities, Indigenous

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Short description of the good practice:

In response to poverty and gender marginalization challenges in northern Jordan, what began as a project to sell souvenirs to tourists passing through, soon blossomed into the provision of comprehensive hospitality and cultural education services.  The women participants have discovered that culture can act as a source of resilience in a part of Jordan where women’s economic participation is extremely low and where tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have settled. The project began in 2014 and initially attracted 12 participants who learned to use the black basalt stone native to the area to carve attractive rock art.  As women began to see their friends and neighbours lifting themselves out of poverty by selling their artwork, more joined and today they number 50. Participants in the project then developed a storefront to display their artwork for purchase, and they now attend bazaars and markets around Jordan to reach an ever-wider market.  The ‘Ladies of Umm el-Jimal District Women’s Association’ soon expanded from rock carving and art sales to hospitality. The women recently established a restaurant above their storefront, just steps from the archaeological site of Umm-el-Jimal, a key tourist destination in Northern Jordan attracting over 3,000 visitors a year. The women have been clever in filling this niche while sharing their culture and traditional food; and their brand-new restaurant is enjoying considerable traffic.