Za’atari Camp, close to Jordan’s northern border with Syria has become emblematic of the displacement of Syrians across the Middle East following its establishment in 2012.

In that time, the camp has undergone an evolution, from a small collection of tents into an urban settlement of some 80,000. Inside this immense settlement, women play a crucial role. Looking at the most recent UNHCR statistics, 20% of Za’atari’s refugees are female headed households and out of the 12,000 with work permit , 14% are women. These numbers have been reached over the past few years and will be enhanced in the years to come thank to the splendid and effective co-operation of different bodies that from 2012 have dedicated energies and passion to provide a brighter and dignified future for women and girls living in the camp. The main actors operating in the camp are a mixture of governmental partners  (e.g. The Syrian Refugee Affairs Directorate - SRAD), humanitarian partners UN organizations (e.g. UNWOMEN, World Food Programme – WFP, International Organization for Migration - IOM), international non-governmental organizations (e.g. King Salman Humanitarian Aid & Relief Centre, Kenan Refugee Project - KRP, REACH, Save the Mercy Corps, International Rescue Committee - IRC, OXFAM) and, last but not least, national non-governmental organizations (e.g. Noor al Hussein Foundation - NHF, Jordan Humanitarian Aid Society - JHAS).

The first and main principle of all the operating organizations is PROTECTION and EQUALITY.

All women and girls are protected from any risk of SGBV. Field workers ensure that survivors lead a life in dignity by means of health and psychological consultation and by increasing resilience through engagement and ownership.

Amongst the many initiatives designed to empower women in the camp:

  • UNFPA provides quality integrated 24/7 reproductive health care and Gender based Violence services in four clinics in the camp
  • Four Healthy Kitchens provide healthy school meals to refugee children in all formal schools, employing refugee women under the incentive-based volunteering programme.
  • UN Women operates two centres – Oasis – to build women’s resilience and empowerment through access to multi-sectoral services. The Oasis are conceptualised around, securing livelihood opportunities, GBV prevention, protection and awareness raising services as well as remedial education, leadership and civic engagement initiatives for women.

Last April, I was a member of a team consisting of Academics and International Development practitioners to visit Za’atari camp as part of our Women, Faith and Humanitarian Interventions project. We gladly witnessed that the 30% of the camp population are women and girls (ages 12-60) and noticed how their contribution to the community is significant and essential. I was left with a mixed feeling after this trip; so sad to see those children out of their countries, away from their own homes but happy to see such amazing projects to empower women and girls inside these camps led by #UNHCR and many other humanitarian and international development agencies.

 #اللاجئين #مع_اللاجئين @globalone_ngo

Dr. Hanaa Albanna
International Initiatives Manager
Global One