Empowering Girls to Stay Away from Early Marriage
Rana is a divorced mother of six who fled Syria together with her children two years ago to resettle in the northern city of Jordan, Al-Mafraq.
Rana struggled to provide her children with basic needs such as food, clothing, and personal hygiene products. She decided that it was best for her 16 year old daughter Marwa to get married, as this would lessen the burden on the family and help them make ends meet. Against Marwa’s wishes, her mother’s decision was final and Marwa got engaged to her neighbor’s son, whom she barely knew. “I was so scared about the idea of getting married to someone I do not know, and at this stage of my life,” Marwa said.
At the same time, Rana was worried about Marwa and her siblings’ well being as they kept isolated from the community and did not engage with those around them. She raised the matter with some of the neighbors who advised her to register the children at the Child Family Centre (CFC) in Al-Mafraq. The center, which is one of six in the northern region, is operated by Save the Children.
The centre offers a vast range of programmes to vulnerable Jordanian as well as Syrian refugee children and families. One of the activities offered at the (CFC), is empowering homebound girls through activities such as life skills, productive health and intensive awareness, which are conducted in the host community, and is offered to both mothers and daughters. Rana and Marwa both signed up for the homebound girls empowerment activity at the centre. A social worker at the centre said, “Marwa used to get angry easily, so I had to work with her individually to better understand and grasp her struggles.”
After Rana and Marwa completed the activity, Rana realized that she had made a big mistake when she urged her daughter to get married, just a few weeks before. “I am glad the programme changed my mind because I realize now that Marwa can support me in the household by raising her siblings,” Rana said.
After Marwa attended the activity, her behavior improved and she started socializing with her neighbors and made new friends. “Because of the center, my mother was able to change her mind about me getting married at this early age, and for that I will always be grateful” Marwa said.