In an effort to aid its water conservation effort, Jordan turns to women.
As one of 30 women trained as plumbers through a Millennial Challenge Corporation- (MCC) funded program, Ra’eda and her former classmates are challenging attitudes about women’s roles and professions in Jordan.
“People think us incapable of doing such work just because we are women,” said Ra’eda, 47.
Used to skepticism about her abilities as a plumber, she is proud that it is “replaced by shock at my skill” once people see her work.
Because of cultural norms in Jordan that make it uncomfortable to have a male plumber visit a home without a male head of household is present, women plumbers are filling a unique market need.
Plumbers are important players in Jordan’s water conservation efforts, which are creating new opportunities for economic growth and business investment to help people lift themselves out of poverty. The country is among the most water poor countries in the world, and when MCC launched its compact partnership with Jordan, it estimated that up to 50 percent of water in the Zarqa network was lost due to leaking pipes.
Recognizing that women typically manage water collection and storage in the home, the outreach campaign targeted women as primary agents of change.
Ra’eda was part of a team that provided basic plumbing maintenance training and toolkits to more than 3,000 women, and also helped to promote the importance of cleaning water tanks and monitoring for leaks in pipes through awareness sessions across her community.
Today, she is self-employed and works about 15 hours a week as a plumber serving 50 clients in the Zarqa area.