World Bank research found that men in Jordan are paid as much as 40 percent more than women are for the same job in the private sector. In the public sector, the gap is 28 percent.

The disparity in employment — 53 percent of men are in the labor force compared with 14 percent of women — is nearly double that of neighboring countries such as Bahrain, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.

Traditional roles in Jordan are enshrined in laws that differentiate between women’s and men’s rights and responsibilities. There is no law prohibiting gender discrimination in the workplace. And while the Constitution provides that “every worker shall receive wages commensurate with the quantity and quality of his work,” there is no right to equal pay for women and men.

For Muslims, who make up most of Jordan’s population of nearly 11 million, matters of marriage, divorce, child custody and inheritance are governed by Shariah, or Islamic law, and adjudicated in Shariah courts rather than civil or military courts. Under Shariah law, for example, women can inherit property, but daughters receive half as much as sons.

And during the Arab Spring a decade ago, many women and human rights activists assailed a parliamentary committee for breaking its promise to include the word gender in the Constitution’s Article 6, which is supposed to guarantee the equality of all Jordanians. It states, “There shall be no discrimination between Jordanians with regard to their rights and duties on grounds of race, language or religion.”

Despite the obstacles, some women have managed to succeed professionally.

Jamileh Shetewi is by all accounts an exception among Jordanian women. She grew up in a one-room mud-walled home with her eight siblings and parents, and spent her childhood days picking tomatoes, eggplants and bananas in hot and shadeless farms with her four sisters.

The odds were stacked against her.

She dropped out of school at age 17 and married at 18. As a young farmer from 1997 to 2002, she was paid $3 a day less than the men she worked alongside, and she had to cook for them on top of her job.

She decided to go back to school, and went on to earn a Ph.D. in archaeology. Today she heads the Department of Antiquities for the Jordan Valley region.

“Yes, I defied all expectations,” said Ms. Shetewi, 50. “I fought and shattered the culture of shame.” But without changing laws and perceptions, she said, most women will not be able to advance.

“I didn’t care what people had to say, and I told my husband, ‘I need your support to make our lives better,’” she said. “We aren’t the enemy. Do you think a country can reform and prosper without half its population?”

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