Syrian Refugee Youth in Jordan: Early Marriages in Perspective

Coordinator of the project:
Dr M.C. de Regt, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Consortium partners:

  • 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

Summary of progress

This project focuses on the experiences, perceptions and strategies of Syrian refugee youth in Jordan, both married and unmarried and those of their parents and community, with regard to their SRHR, and in particular marriage and having children. The research main aim is to put the discussion about early marriage, which dominates development discourses in Jordan, in a broader perspective. Three research teams, consisting of a senior researcher, an Masters student in Anthropology of Yarmouk University and one or two Syrian refugees, carry out qualitative research in and around Irbid, Zarqa and Mafraq. In addition to in-depth interviews with youth, parents and service providers, the researchers use Participatory Action Research (PAR). Three PAR groups have been established, two of married women and one of married and unmarried men. The PAR groups meet monthly and discuss a broad range of topics around SRHR. The research team in Zarqa works closely together with the international NGO Caritas and the team in Mafraq with the local NGO Ahel Al-Jabal. The SRHR interventions of these two organizations are studied as well, both from the perspective from the service providers as well as of recipients.


In the past five years, Jordan has received a large number of Syrian refugees, many of them children and youth. Development and humanitarian organizations 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. This project intends to address the sexual and reproductive health of Syrian refugee youth in more general terms and in doing so put early marriages in a broader perspective. 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 organizations working with refugee youth, namely Caritas, a large international NGO working in eight centers across the country and Ahel Al-Jabal, a Jordanian NGO working in Mafraq. The project 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.


Publications for the general public

  • M.C. de Regt(2018): Syrian Refugee Youth in Jordan
  • A. Van Raemdonck(2018): Doing PAR with Syrian refugees in Jordan


Project number

W 08.560.011

Main applicant

Dr. M.C. de Regt

Affiliated with

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Faculteit der Sociale Wetenschappen, Sociale en Culturele Antropologie (SCA)

Team members

Dr. R. Al-Akash, M. El-Darabeh, Dr. K. Grabska PhD, Dr. A.H.K. Al Husban, E. Jawabreh, Dr. A. Nashwan, Dr. A. van Raemdonck, Dr. M.C. de Regt, L. Snober, M.S.M. Abu Zaitoun


15/09/2017 to 31/08/2019