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Empowering Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan

In 2017, NextGen worked hard to hit a $100,000 goal to pilot a program in Jordan that empowered Syrian refugee women while providing neonatal kits to new mothers living in Jordan's refugee camps. The original proposal projected that funding from NextGen would allow UNICEF to reach an estimated 1,300 vulnerable women in Jordan, provide 30 women with livelihood opportunities for a one year period, and supply 1,000 mothers and their newborns with critical health care packages. 

As context, Jordan has one of the world’s largest numbers of refugees relative to its population and one of the highest densities of refugees relative to its territory. The refugee crisis presents serious economic, social and political implications for the region. In Jordan, the massive influx of refugees has placed strain on public services, with children and women being the most affected.

Poverty and workforce exclusion further compound the problems faced by refugee, forcing many to rely entirely on humanitarian assistance and credit. In 2015, nearly 90% of Syrian refugee families took on debt to meet their basic needs. Without formal residency rights and access to work permits, many refugees quickly exhaust their resources. When people lack opportunities to engage in safe and lawful employment, they may have no choice but to resort to exploitative and high risk jobs.

In addition, each month, an average of 2,000 Syrian refugee children are born in Jordan, yet many new Syrian mothers and their infants in Jordan lack access to appropriate maternal and newborn health care. Currently, over half of all under-five deaths in Jordan occur in the neonatal period. The assessment suggests a strong need for essential newborn care in the refugee camps.

In order to meet both the need for 1) Livelihood opportunities for vulnerable women and 2) Essential newborn care/supply kits, UNICEF Jordan began to train women on the production of neonatal kits and subsequently employed these women as manufacturers. The kits consist of several critical items for both babies and mothers, including clothing, essential winter items, cots, diapers, soaps and other hygiene items!

When the organization Dining for Women heard about this incredible UNICEF program, they jumped on board and matched our goal of committing $100,000 to the UNICEF Jordan country office. In total, we were able to transfer $200,000 plus to this program, doubling our impact and reaching more women and children residing in the camps. 

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