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Evaluation of ' Women and Girls Oasis’ group at Za'atari refugee camp

Since the start of the Syrian Civil war in 2011, there has been an influx of refugees fleeing to Jordan, Lebanon, Turkey and neighbouring countries. ‘Refugeeism’ is defined as forced displacement and migration and the lives of the displaced persons, which often occurs in camps and settlements and is influenced by protection and aid mechanisms. Many people lost their homes and belongings; their education was interrupted, and their human rights were violated. They witnessed war firsthand and were forced to leave their country to find a haven elsewhere. Men, women and children have since been exposed to traumas and psychological problems such as depression, anxiety, insomnia, neurosis and stress disorders. In Jordan and other neighbouring countries, they live in tents or makeshift apartments (caravans) inside refugee camps or outside the camps and, in both cases, with limited resources.

Abdel & Zazas´s aim was to evaluate a vocational training programme entitled ‘Women and Girls Oasis’ at the Zaatari Refugee Camp in the city of Mafraq, Jordan. The research study was undertaken in 2014/2015 and highlighted the impact of such vocational training programmes on the well-being of Syrian women refugees. The results show that the ‘Women and Girls Oasis’ Programme enhanced women’s confidence and self-esteem, improved their occupational business, and entrepreneurship skills, helped them generate income to build a better life for their shattered families, and gave them hope and opportunities after experiencing war firsthand. The study reveals that patterns are deconstructed, and gender roles may be changed; this gender equality and women empowerment are seen as perquisites for sustainable development and achieving the millennium development goal.

The study offers recommendations for UN Women, UNHCR and similar NGO’s concerned with the well-being of refugees in Jordan and neighbouring countries. Based on this research study, the following seven inferences can be made: (1) becoming a refugee means that community patterns are deconstructed, and gender roles may be changed. Displacement can give women refugees the opportunity to assume different gender roles, (2) access to livelihoods empowers women and allows them to have a stronger voice in society, (3) equipping women with skills through vocational programmes yields positive results such as improving nutrition, diminishing poverty and exploitation of all kinds, reducing mortality rates and ensuring access to education, (4) vocational programmes in refugee camps impact culture by changing the mindsets of the refugees, especially when it comes to gender roles, (5) all women in the study felt that their self-confidence and self-esteem increased after joining the programme, (6) most of the women interviewed witnessed violence and the death of their spouses or loved ones. However, these women were able to show resilience by participating in vocational programmes and thinking of rebuilding their lives for a better future for their children and (7) self-efficacy among women refugees was evident as both a personal and social construct.

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