Projects granted on SRHR in Jordan

Posted by Maria Codina on September 12, 2017 at 12:29 pm

NWO-WOTRO Science for Global Development has recently awarded funding to four more projects within the research programme Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

With these projects 1.34 million euros will be invested in research in Jordan. The projects aim to generate insights in and identify entry points for improved polices and interventions for sexual and reproductive health (SRH) and reproductive rights of women and young people in Jordan, with special attention for vulnerable populations. The call has been developed in close collaboration with the Knowledge Platform Share-Net International and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. After granting projects in Bangladesh and Burundi, these projects focus specifically on Jordan. The international consortia with researchers and practitioners aim to generate, translate and share new knowledge and insights on SRH and reproductive rights of women and young people with relevant actors to inform policy and practice in Jordan.

Granted projects

Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Women and Young People in Jordan: A Mixed Methods study using Interactive Theatre
Main applicant: Prof J. DeJong (American University of Beirut)
Co-applicant: L.A. Attel MA (National Centre for Culture and Arts, Jordan)

In a conservative society like Jordan, a key distinguishing factor for SRHR is marital status, for sexuality and reproduction are widely deemed only to be legitimate within marriage. Ideas about acceptable behaviour for women, stigma associated with sexuality outside marriage and the social importance of the family have direct consequences for SRHR. This project applies a university-NGO partnership using mixed methods research and theatre as a medium to address the question: What are the key differentiators in accessing SRH services and exercising SRH rights for women and young people in Jordan? Specifically in the first phase it reviews relevant policies and legislation in Jordan and analyses quantitatively existing population-based survey data to understand key SRHR differences at a population level. Secondly, it conducts qualitative research with excluded groups in terms of SRHR (including young women and men, single, widowed and divorced women as well as Syrian refugees) to understand their attitudes towards SRHR and marriage trends, and with health-care providers, all sampled purposively. Thirdly, it uses community theatrical performances as a medium to stimulate public debate about the research findings and to stimulate further qualitative research with audience members. Finally. a media and dissemination strategy will be employed throughout the process to convey findings of the research iteratively to key stakeholders and the general public.

Understanding and meeting the sexual and reproductive health needs of Jordanian and Syrian youth
Main applicant: Dr A. Langer (Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health)
Co-applicants: Dr A.O. Othman (University of Jordan) and R.F. Alzaban (Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development)

Syrian refugees in Jordan face unprecedented challenges with regard to their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Early pregnancy, child marriage, gender-based violence and sexual assault have become significant problems as a result of changing economic pressures, community dynamics and social norms.

The findings of this study will be utilised to improve the sexual and reproductive health of young men and women living in Jordan by informing the design of multi-level interventions to create a more equitable social environment that enables youth to access the quality SRH services.

Using participatory qualitative methods and rigorous quantitative data analysis, this study will respond to some of the most critical SRHR needs facing young men and women living in Jordan, with a focus on Syrian refugees and members of their host communities. The main research objectives of this study focus on

  1. the policy, regulatory, and service delivery infrastructure;
  2. the factors that influence demand for and utilisation of SRHR information and services;
  3. the quality of existing services targeting youth, and;
  4. the development of strategies for improving youth SRHR services.


Examining Reproductive Health Services of Women, Female Youth, and Female Refugees in Northern Jordan with a Behavioral Economics Lens
Main applicant: Dr H.J. Prince (The University of Texas)
Co-applicants: Dr Y. Khader (Jordan University of Science and Technology), Dr B. Al-Qaseer (Jordan Ministry of Health), Dr K. Ready (The University of Texas)

With fertility rate reduction stalled since 2002 and an increasing influx of refugees with higher fertility rates, improving couples’ ability to control childbearing is vital for Jordan. As knowledge of and access to contraceptives is already high, the question is how to influence behavior so that couples correctly utilize family planning options. Contraceptives are available for free at public health centers but women often discontinue use because of side effects or social pressure. Behavioral economics (BE) recognizes that decisions are often not deliberate but heavily influenced by the environment in which they are made. This project attempts to promote changes in reproductive behavior by changing the way options are presented. In collaboration with the advisory committee, we will build on current clinics’ protocols for contraceptive counseling. Twelve comprehensive health centers utilized by Jordanian and Syrian women and female youth, including refugees, will be randomly selected and assigned to three study arms. With four centers as controls, training will be carried out for health providers on enhanced counseling in the remaining eight clinics. The enhanced counseling will incorporate BE methods of “framing” and “identity priming.”
Women from four intervention clinics will also receive monthly text message to encourage use of modern family planning methods (MFPM), and periodic phone calls asking how contraceptives are working, prompting them to raise any questions with their health providers and providing them with a number to call if they have questions. Analysis will show whether messages and/or counseling improved women’s willingness and ability to use MFPM.

Syrian Refugee Youth in Jordan: Early Marriages in Perspective
Main applicant: Dr M.C. de Regt (Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam)
Co-applicants: Dr A. Nashwan (Yarmouk University), Dr K. Grabska (Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva), L. Snobar BSc (Caritas Jordan), M.S.M. Abu Zaitoun (Association Ahel-Aljabal for Human Development)

This project addresses the sexual and reproductive health of Syrian refugee youth in more general terms and in doing so put early marriages in a broader perspective, and aims to give insight in the agency, resilience and coping strategies of Syrian refugee youth in Jordan with regard to their SRHR and contribute to more effective policies and practices.

In the past five years, Jordan has received a large number of Syrian refugees, many of them children and youth. Development and humanitarian organisations consider early marriages (under 18) one of the main problems affecting the health situation of Syrian girls and young women and their children. While there are many studies available on the causes and consequences of early marriages among Syrian refugees in Jordan, little is known about the strategies that married and unmarried girls and boys use themselves to improve their livelihoods, and their thoughts and practices regarding marriages, child bearing and family planning.

The project will employ a qualitative approach and use ethnography and PAR methods to study the perceptions, experiences and strategies of Syrian refugee youth in Jordan with regard to their SRHR, and the role and impact of marriages on SRHR in particular, and the interventions of two development organisations working with refugee youth, namely Caritas, a large international NGO working in eight centres across the country and Ahel Al-Jabal, a Jordanian NGO working in Mafraq.