Jordan has the highest percentage of refugees of any country, making more than 40 per cent of its current population. Some have been in camps for decades, others have just escaped the trauma of war, but all share the difficulties that come with being displaced. Living in cramped quarters, lack of privacy, unemployment, poverty and susceptibility to illness. Most at risk in these situations are women and children, especially girls. They tend to have less access to social and economic resources, having often come from places where women face discrimination when it comes to education, among other things. As well as facing food insecurity, there is a high risk of sexual violence and labour exploitation. Adolescent refugee girls are especially susceptible to violence at home, at school or in the streets. There is a culture of victim blaming, and girls who report an assault are often assumed to be at fault and pulled out of school or forced into marriage.
Try Center helps protect refugee girls and women in Jordan and equip them with the tools and skills to live full independent lives. The organisation runs training courses on education, gender, human rights and democracy. It has successfully developed training manuals on girl child protection, widened the network of schools attended by Palestinian refugees, launched several awareness campaigns on gender equality and organised several art competitions on the theme of gender-based violence. In 2014, Try Center established a steering committee for refugee girls called the Gender Working Group. The committee participated in advocacy programmes in schools to end violence against girls. Following its success, a new steering committee was formed in 2016 called GirlsLeadership, which developed a work plan and a small budget to help girls exercise their power, providing them with the tools to protect themselves. To date, Try Center in Jordan has benefitted 2,500 people, 80 per cent of which are female. The organisation strives to be as girl-led as possible and even has girls represented on the organisation’s Board of Trustees. Photos: Maria de la Guardia