The “Umm Qais Women Tourism Association” is now a legal body thanks to CROSSDEV
A new sustainable tourism association was recently born in Umm Qais, northern Jordan, thanks to the collaboration between the EU-funded CROSSDEV project and local women involved in tourism-related businesses.
Started as a simple group of women networking to ensure the best experience to tourists visiting the area, the “Umm Qais Women Tourism Association” is now a legal body, also thanks to the support of the CROSSDEV team from the Jordan University of Science and Technology.
Building a network
From the real beginning of the project, the CROSSDEV team worked to help local women build a network, knowing their potential and focusing on their strengths and opportunities. One of the strengths was the positive energy of a number of women working in tourism services in Umm Qais creating handicrafts, welcoming guests in home accommodations or cooking traditional food like Galsoum Kitchen. The opportunities included, especially after the pandemic, the need to generate extra income for their families and the idea to do so through hospitality services for the rising tourism sector in the area.
While at the beginning the women were working separately, each one providing their own service to local and international tourists, CROSSDEV helped them build a network to work together as to offer a wholesome experience to tourists. Eventually, this meant the opportunity to take their businesses to the next level.
CROSSDEV provided trainings and advice and worked with the local women of Umm Qais to establish periodic gatherings to identify specific goals to develop tourism services as a community. The project also helped to identify and meet the needs for the group to take legal status so to be able to deal with local and international organisations interested in sustainable tourism in the Umm Qais area.
At the beginning, CROSSDEV met with the women explaining the importance of forming a tourism association, the benefits of establishing it, and the steps to be followed to achieve legal status. They were helped in shaping the goals of the association and assisted in the legal and institutional procedures for establishing the association until it was approved. The “Umm Qais Women Tourism Association” was born.
While being now officially born, the association is currently working – with the help of CROSSDEV’s team – to obtain official approval from the Ministry of Tourism and the Department of Antiquities to find an area in the archaeological site of Umm Qais to display their products, meet, and continue working to keep the association up and running.
While this experience is bringing to the city opportunities for sustainable economic development, we must also highlight the benefits in terms of social change.
Traditionally, in northern Jordan, women were not supposed to work or to provide income for their families. Their impressive abilities in hospitality, making handicrafts or cooking delicious meals have always been to the benefit of family members and generously given for free.
Especially during and after the pandemic, the need for extra income suddenly hit these families who managed to turn their abilities into an opportunity. Women started selling their goods, such as meals or little handmade products. And little by little this became a proper job, not only helping feed the children and run their homes, but also making them able to recognize their personal value and power.
The creation of the women association of Umm Qais is, therefore, not only a sign of business acumen but also proof of a new life perspective for local women who are proud to show their skills, to make the most of them and to set an example for future generations.
CROSSDEV’s social and economic impact
The CROSSDEV project did not start in Umm Qais to end right after the formal implementation period, or to ever halt its impact on the tourism and social development in the area. The project’s full name is “Cultural Routes for Sustainable Social and Economic Development in Mediterranean” and, as per its name, the project will keep living through the local people that it managed to involve since the beginning. Taking part in so many activities, trainings and experiences, the locals of Umm Qais are now prepared and empowered to take responsibility for a continuous development. Community empowerment, after all, is one of the main goals of any project that seek sustainability.
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