Disseminating the Findings of a Participatory Research Targets Vulnerable Girls in Jordan

Amman - As part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, the Information and Research Center – King Hussein Foundation (IRCKHF) released findings of its research ‘From Vulnerable Girls to Empowered Women’. This baseline research is part of a five-year project implemented with IM Swedish Development Partner which aims to enhance the social protection of some of the most vulnerable young women in Jordan by carrying out research and advocacy in cooperation with the Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that support them.

Qualitative participatory research was conducted with 49 vulnerable girls (aged 14-19) including: girls living in poverty, school dropouts and homebound girls, married girls, daughter of Jordanian mothers and non-Jordanian fathers, working girls, and girls with disabilities.  The research findings were presented to an advisory committee of civil society organization and gender experts.

The research found significant differences between girls who are in school and those who are not, with the former group faring much better than the latter. Girls who are in school generally have high aspirations – with most wanting to attend university.

28 out of 49 girls were out of school at the time of the research. It was found that girls dropped out of school for three main reasons: the need to work and support their family; low academic achievement coupled with a lack of supportive environment; and customs and traditions.

The research highlighted that girls who are out of school have much more limited access to services and social networks. Almost all of them were primarily responsible for household chores and taking care of siblings. Those involved in child labor were also expected to conduct household chores in addition to paid work – placing immense pressure on their wellbeing. Our research found they were obliged to help their parents financially, despite their preference to be in school instead.

Families restricted girls’ mobility for two main reasons. The first is conservative social norms which heavily govern the mobility and actions of many of the girls interviewed. The second is safety concerns. Some girls stated that they do not go out alone because their parents are concerned about their safety and the risk of being subjected to harassment. This is especially true for girls who came from poor neighborhoods, and well as girls who lived in Informal Tented Settlements (ITS).

Furthermore, the main challenge that was apparent across different vulnerabilities and the two groups of participants in and out of school revolved around lack of resources and the cost of living. Poverty affected movement, access to resources, ability to make free decisions, access to education, access to trainings or services, and many other aspects of life. Girls engaged in early marriages and child labor particularly mentioned how hard the financial situation is for them and for their families.