Jordan is home to one of the highest proportions of refugees globally-- including over 2 million refugees from the protracted Palestine refugee crisis, 1.3 million Syrian refugees, and a substantial number of Iraqis, Yemenis, Sudanese and Somalis. The challenges facing refugee adolescents living in these communities have been exacerbated by conflict, displacement and discrimination. Adolescents belonging to Jordanian host communities are also facing significant levels of change and uncertainty, with their access to quality education and employment impacted by the country’s outsized refugee flows.
Education and learning: Jordanian adolescent girls are more likely to go to school than their male peers—93% complete primary school and only 10% of secondary-age girls are out of school (compared to 15% of boys). Palestine refugee students show a similar pattern. At age 15, 95% of girls living in host communities-- but only 90% of boys-- are enrolled in school. For Syrian refugee adolescents, however, enrolment rates plummet in adolescence. Of those aged 15 to 17, just less than half are enrolled in school. Over 10% of Syrian boys are working rather than attending school.
Bodily integrity: while the rates of child marriage among native born Jordanian girls and Palestine refugee girls are relatively low (at 12.7% and 17.6% respectively), Syrian refugee girls’ risk of child marriage has more than doubled since 2011 (to about one-third). Married Jordanian girls between the ages of 15 and 17 are significantly more likely to experience physical violence than their 18 and 19 year old peers (30.2% versus 23%), highlighting the additional risks of early marriage.
Sexual and reproductive health: adolescent pregnancy is uncommon in Jordan, outside of girls subject to child marriage. The rate of women using contraception has grown from 40% in 1990 to 61% in 2012.
Nutrition: while native born Jordanian and Palestine refugee girls are at increasing risk of obesity, Syrian refugee girls living in Jordan remain highly vulnerable to food insecurity.
Psychosocial wellbeing: the IRC’s Adolescent Girls Assessment found that most Jordanian and Syrian refugee girls feel that they have support and are positive about the future. That said, research has repeatedly found that Syrian refugee adolescents face significant levels of harassment and bullying and that girls’ isolation from peers has left them bored, lonely and depressed.
Voice and agency: fewer than 45% of married Jordanian adolescent girls are allowed input into decision-making regarding their own health care, mobility, and household purchasing--and girls have far more limited mobility than boys, especially after puberty. The mobility of Syrian refugee girls is particularly restricted, only one-third even leave home on a daily basis.
Economic empowerment: girls and women in Jordan are exceedingly unlikely to work for pay. Of young people between the ages of 15 and 24, only 8% of Jordanian and Palestine refugee females were employed-- compared to 37% of males. Syrian refugees are even less likely to work given the confluence of social norms and legal restrictions.