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Education, poverty underlie challenges for vulnerable girls in Kingdom — report

By JT - Dec 12,2019 - Last updated at Dec 12,2019

AMMAN — There are significant differences between girls who are in school and those who are not, with the former group faring much better than the latter, said a report released as part of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence by the Information and Research Centre — King Hussein Foundation, according to a statement from the foundation.

The report, titled “From Vulnerable Girls to Empowered Women”, is part of a five-year project implemented with IM Swedish Development Partner that aims to enhance the social protection of some of Jordan’s most vulnerable young women by conducting research and advocacy in cooperation with the civil society organisations (CSOs) that support them.

Qualitative participatory research was conducted with 49 vulnerable girls (aged 14-19), including girls living in poverty, girls who left school early 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 CSO representatives and gender experts, the statement said.

Twenty-eight of the 49 girls were out of school at the time of the research, which found that girls dropped out of school for three main reasons: To work and support their families, because of low academic achievement coupled with the lack of a supportive environment and due to customs and traditions, according to the statement.

The research highlighted that girls who were out of school had “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 labour were also expected to conduct household chores in addition to paid work, placing “immense pressure” on their wellbeing. The research found that they were also obliged to help their parents financially, despite their desire to be in school instead, the statement said.

Families restricted girls’ mobility for two main reasons. The first was conservative social norms, which “heavily governed the mobility and actions” of many of the girls interviewed. The second was safety concerns. Some girls stated that they did not go out alone because their parents were concerned about their safety and the risk of being subjected to harassment. The research found this to be especially true for girls who come from poor neighbourhoods and girls who live in informal tented settlements.

According to the report, the main challenge experienced across different vulnerabilities and among participants in and out of school was lack of resources and the cost of living. 

Poverty affects movement, access to resources, the ability to make free decisions, access to education, access to trainings or services and many other aspects of life, the research found. Girls engaged in early marriages and child labour in particular mentioned how hard the financial situation was for them and their families.

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