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Request for Proposal (RFP/JOR/2015) for services to support gender equality and youth employment through social entrepreneurship

Amman (Jordan)

  • Organization: UN WOMEN - United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women
  • Location: Amman (Jordan)
  • Grade: Mid level
  • Occupational Groups:
    • Social Affairs
    • Women's Empowerment and Gender Mainstreaming
    • Labour Market Policy
    • Youth
    • Project and Programme Management
  • Closing Date: 2015-10-15

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Terms of Reference

UN Women Country Office for Jordan


UN Women is grounded in the vision of equality enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, works for the elimination of discrimination against women and girls, the empowerment of women, and the achievement of equality between women and men as partners and beneficiaries of development, human rights, humanitarian action and peace and security.

UN Women Jordan currently supports projects that promote the economic participation of Jordanian women, and works to improve access and effective participation of marginalized Jordanian women in economic and public life by addressing the barriers that have led to their exclusion.


The Arab Spring has had important social and economic impacts on the Arab World. Economic injustice played a central role in the uprisings across the region. The high expectations of youth, women’s economic inequality and the broader economic crises brought to the fore the dire structural challenges facing the region. In 2010, the employment-to-population ratio for North Africa and the Middle East were 46.6 and 45.4 per cent respectively (compared to the global average of 61.1 per cent), meaning that less than half of those able to work were participating in the labour force.[1] Female labour force participation rates in the region at 26 per cent (compared to 52 per cent globally) were among the lowest in the world, and are indicative of the significant barriers to women’s meaningful participation in socio-economic and public life, including lack of economic opportunities. In the years following the Arab Spring the expected gains failed to materialize and increased unrest, violence and political instability ensued in many countries. Across the region, economies have also been negatively affected, unemployment rates have risen, female labour force participation rates remain low and there has been decreases in foreign investment and tourism, and interruptions in exports. Youth unemployment rates are particularly high: at 27.2 per cent (22.9 per cent for males and 43.9 per cent for females) in the Middle East and 29.4 per cent (23.2 per cent for males and 45.0 per cent for females) in North Africa, they are more than double the global average.[2]

In Jordan civil unrest in 2011 was met with a number of political and socio-economic reforms and the country has remained stable. However, the crisis in neighbouring Syria has severely impacted Jordan, which is hosting more than 630,000 Syrian refugees.[3] With some 85 per cent of refugees living outside of the official camps, Jordanians in host communities, in particular in the northern governorates, have been affected by the increased competition for and pressures on wages, public services, housing and limited natural resources. Mafraq, Zarqa and Irbid governorates host – with Amman - the highest concentrations of Syrian refugees and contain within them numerous pockets of poverty that pre-existed the Syria crisis. In Zarqa 21.9% of all households are deemed to be vulnerable, with 26.7% classified as vulnerable in Irbid. Across Jordan in Q1 2015 the male unemployment rate was 11.0% while female unemployment was more than twice this rate at 22.1%. Youth unemployment was even higher at 35.8 % for those aged 15-19 and 30.4 % for the 20-24 age group.[4] In Zarqa and Irbid governorates, women’s employment stood at 10% and 11.9%, respectively, in 2012.

Global data shows the positive impact women’s engagement in the labour market can have on national economies. Therefore finding meaningful ways to integrate women into the Jordanian economy is a key strategy for addressing household and community poverty, while also promoting issues of gender equality.

Social Entreprenuership

As the Arab region works to address challenges within its boundaries, it has witnessed an increase in community spirit, with a growing awareness of the need for citizens to actively participate in bringing about social change and community development. Moreover, the central role that women played in the Arab Spring has created a new momentum for meaningful citizenship and empowerment in a region that has the lowest levels of political and labour force participation rates among women globally. One manifestation of this has been the increase in the recognition of social enterprises – defined as entities that aim to “fulfill a social mission while following a business model that helps [to] achieve financial viability, sustainability and scale”[5] – as a means for responding to some of the challenges facing the region. A survey conducted by Standford University among more than 12,000 citizens of 18 Arab countries found that despite the many obstacles social entrepreneurs face, there is a strong potential for social entrepreneurship in the region.[6] Respondents of the survey demonstrated: i) a strong interest in volunteerism; ii) a preference to be self-employed or own a business over other forms of employment; iii) familiarity with the term entrepreneurship (around 50 per cent of respondents); iv) interest in entrepreneurship as a profession; v) and a belief that young people are more interested in improving their communities[7] – all indicating a positive environment for the role and potential of social entrepreneurship in the region.

In Jordan, the notion of social entrepreneurship is being introduced as a way to combat unemployment, barriers to employment and to engage citizens in improving their local communities. As such, social enterprises present an option in responding to Jordanians’ socio-economic needs. Organizations are moving towards utilising social entrepreneurship to address persistent problems of poverty and inequality by harnessing the potential of this model to fuel equitable and inclusive economic growth with positive social outcomes. While social entrepreneurship is still a relatively new concept in Jordan, there is evidence of its arrival through international programmes and organizations supporting entrepreneurs in both business and social sectors.

UN Women aims to use employment-focused social enterprises to advance gender equality and support youth unemployment in Mafraq, Irbid and Zarqa governorates. Specifically, the goal is to help women, in particular young women, break the cycle of poverty and unemployment by supporting those who are most vulnerable and face the most significant barriers to employment and economic engagement.The project will utilize and build upon the existing capacities of young entrepreneurs in Jordan and raise their awareness of social entrepreneurship and how it can be successful in introducing new reforms and models that could ultimately lead to achieving social outcomes. Rather than maximizing financial profit, the primary goal is to achieve a positive social impact, while at the same time generating employment opportunities. As such, UN Women aims to generate knowledge on the value and potential of social entrepreneurship in addressing community and development challenges. It further aims to support a limited number of social entrepreneurship initatives to address issues of gender equality and women’s empowerment, focusing in particular on women’s access to the labour market, using business principles and non-conventional approaches.[8]

The project is aligned with the following sectoral objective in the Jordan Response Plan to the Syria Crisis 2015;

Livelihoods and Food Security Sector –

To protect food security to save lives, and enable livelihoods to cope with and recover from the impact of the Syria crisis, as well as strengthen the capacity to adapt to future shocks.

Resilience Strategic Objective 1: More and better job opportunities created for vulnerable women, and young men and women.


This project seeks to support the promotion of gender equality and youth employment through social entreprenership in one or more of the following areas: Al Mafraq, Irbid and Zarqa governorates. UN Women is seeking innovative and impact-oriented initiatives to support women’s access to the labour market and gender equality through social entrepreneurship in Jordan with the aim of addressing challenges exacerbated by the Syrian crisis.


The duration of the project is 9 months – ending August 2016. The ceiling for this work is $250,000.

[1] International Labour Organization, “Challenges in the Arab World: An ILO Response” (2011)

[2]International Labour Organization, “Global Employment Trends” (2014)


[4] Jordan Response Platform for the Syria Crisis, Comprehensive Vulnerability Assessment (2015)

[5] World Bank Institute, International Finance Corporation (2012), “How Can Social Entrepreneurs and Inclusive Businesses Contribute to Equitable Growth in MENA?”

[6] Stanford University (2012), “Social Entrepreneurship: Why is it Important Post Arab Spring?”

[7] Ibid.

[8] For further information on social enterprises/entrepreneurship please refer to the following useful (though not exhaustive) list of resources:

Standford University Social Entrepreneurship Hub:

Harvard University Social Entrepreneurship Resources:

Forbes, “What exactly is social entrepreneurship?”:

Technology Innovation Management Review, “Social Entrepreneurship: Definition and Boundaries”:

for full details and instructions on how to apply please visit

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  1. UN Women:
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