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30 women training to work as gas station attendants


Laila Azzeh, The San Diego Union


AMMAN – In what has been deemed a "progressive" move, Jordanian women will soon be working in gas stations affiliated with a public shareholding company.

In a bid to "break the culture of shame and strike a balance in an industry that is considered male-dominated", the Jordan Petroleum Refinery Company is currently training 30 young women to become "professional" gas station attendants.

"Once we decided to recruit women, we received an overwhelming number of females wishing to work in our stations. We picked 30, who are currently being trained in ways to deal with customers and machinery," JoPetrol Gas Company Director General Khalid Zu'bi told The Jordan Times on Thursday.

He noted that the trainees are also being equipped with the necessary knowledge to deal with emergencies.

"We have heard contradicting opinions on the issue. I think it is time to eradicate the stigma associated with women working in this particular field," said Zu'bi, who noted that women will work in stations located in specific areas due to their "proximity" and "suitability".

"Salaries will be rewarding. The shifts will not exceed four hours and we will establish convenient offices for women," he added, without giving an exact date for the commencement of their work.

The decision to recruit women as gas station attendants was met with debate from commentators, some of whom accused the company of taking such a step for "promotional reasons and to seek attention".

"This could not be further from the truth. Our company is a national corporation owned by Jordanians and is doing very well," Zu'bi said, adding that Jordanians should not be portrayed as "thugs" who cannot accept women working in decent places.

"It is my sister and yours who will work in these stations. That is the message we want to convey clearly. It is time to overcome backward mentalities," he stressed.

Commenting on a social media website, Amal Hammouri described the decision as a "step forward", saying that there is no need for a "public condemnation, particularly as the women will be working in a safe and suitable environment".

Wijdan Touqan agreed, noting that "every new idea is considered strange and jaundiced at the beginning before being fully accepted".

On the other hand, Alaa Al Habashneh strongly criticised the move, viewing it as a "mere promotional idea that will not succeed in Jordan".

Ramzi Majali said, "those who support the move out of the idea of poverty and unemployment among women will not accept their son marrying a woman who works as a gas station attendant", describing the move as a kind of "exploitation".

According to a recent report issued by the National Council for Family Affairs, the number of Jordanian households led by women has increased to reach 12.6 per cent, compared with 8.8 per cent in 1979.

"Do people really believe that it is better for women to remain unemployed and in need rather than work in a gas station?" asked Sami Qiblawi in a comment on social media.


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