GAGE research highlights what the ‘Leave No One Behind Agenda’ means for Jordanian adolescents

The Gender and Adolescence: Global Evidence Programme (GAGE), through partnership with UNICEF Jordan, is exploring adolescent experiences amongst the most vulnerable children and adolescents in Jordan, from refugee camps, informal tented settlements and host communities.

The GAGE Jordan team, including the Information and Research Centre - King Hussein Foundation (IRCKHF) and Mindset, together with international research advisors conducted in-depth research with 4000 adolescents – including vulnerable Jordanians,  Palestinian and Syrian refugees and their caregivers to better understand their experiences and perspectives in six key domains: education and learning; health and nutrition ; freedom from age- and gender-based violence, including child marriage; psychosocial wellbeing; voice and agency, and economic empowerment and social protection.

The GAGE findings are being launched in a series of dissemination events this week, attended by key government institutions, civil society and international agencies. The findings underscore not only differences between the experiences of adolescent girls and boys at different points in the second decade of life (10-19 years), but also provide insights into differences between young people from different nationalities, those in rural and urban communities, camps and host communities. 

Dr Nicola Jones, Director of the GAGE Programme and Principal Research Fellow at ODI in London notes: ‘Capitalising on adolescence to fast-track young people’s development and promote broader social change is increasingly recognised as a not-to-be missed opportunity for governments and practitioners. But there is still much more we need to learn about what sorts of programmes and services are most effective for adolescent girls and boys. Long-term studies like GAGE provide essential evidence to help inform decisions about programme design, and allow us to assess impacts of interventions over time’.

The research finds that there is significant diversity in adolescent experiences: refugee adolescents tend to be the most vulnerable, though the risks that girls and boys face can be quite different.

The research indicates that adolescent and parental educational aspirations are high, with parental aspirations often mirroring those of their children. Of those surveyed, 82% of younger survey respondents indicated that they wished to complete at least some secondary school and 70% reported wanting to attend university. Nearly three-quarters of a sub-sample of adolescent participants indicated that they aspired to have professional careers, but few had concrete knowledge or plans as to how they could realise these goals. 

Other headline findings from the reports include:
• Of the adolescents who completed our survey, 49% admitted to having experienced violence at home and 41 % at school. Adolescents with disabilities are 32% more likely to be have been bullied in the past year than those without disabilities (53% versus 40%).
• Most adolescents (71%) in our sample have a trusted friend. Some groups, however, stand out as being socially isolated. These include: married girls, who are 17% less likely than their unmarried peers to have a friend; Palestinians, who are 16% less likely to have a friend than Jordanians and Syrians; and adolescents with disabilities, who are 10% less likely to have a friend than those without disabilities.
• Of older adolescents, girls are 38% less likely to leave home daily than older boys (55% versus 88%).
• Adolescents living in Jordan have relatively good digital connectivity. Overall, 35% reported having a mobile phone for their own use and 51% reported having ever used the internet. However, there were significant inequalities between girls and boys:  girls were 43% less likely to have a phone and 17% less likely to have been online.
• More than two-thirds (70%) of adolescents in our sample were able to identify a role model who inspires them, though older adolescents (especially older boys) were less likely to be able to do so than younger adolescents.

The research highlights that early adolescence (10-14 years) in particular marks a watershed point for intervention in Jordan. It calls for the government and partners to expand and refocus efforts on this window of opportunity to ensure that all young people- including the most vulnerable- thrive. In this vein, the research makes a series of recommendations as to how the Government of Jordan and its national and international development partners can better align its commitments to young people under the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals.