The Launch of the National Action Plan to Implement the Recommendations of the “Child Marriage” Study to Reduce the Marriage of Those under the Age of 18 in Jordan

Thursday, 31 October 2019
On Thursday, Higher Population Council (HPC), in cooperation with the National Council for Family Affairs, launched a National Action Plan for the implementation of the “Child Marriage” study recommendations in aims of limiting the marriage of children under the age of 18 in Jordan for the years 2018-2022.

The plan aims at providing a practical framework that includes practical directives for facilitating the transition from the theoretical to the practical side in aims of reducing under-18 marriage in Jordan. It also aims at activating the principles of partnership and cooperation between civil society institutions, international organizations and government agencies to determine their respective roles in this field, in addition to the adoption of the plan's main aspects as a research base and starting point in the evaluation and review processes in accordance with quantitative and qualitative indicators. Moreover, the plan aims at facilitating the monitoring and evaluation of activities and efforts, in addition to facilitating the attraction of international and domestic funding for the implementation of activities and the plan’s emanating programs.

Dr. Abla Amawi, the Secretary-General of the Higher Population Council, explained that the Council's interest in limiting the marriage of children under the age of 18 come as a result of its negative effects on the efforts to benefit from the demographic transition Jordan is undergoing, and its negative effects on achieving the third objective of the fifth goal of the Sustainable Development Goals pertaining to the elimination of all harmful practices, such as child marriage, by 2030. Moreover, child marriage threatens the demographic characteristics of society, is a violation of many legitimate human rights of girls, and affects the quality of girls’ lives and reproductive health.

Amawi stressed the need to unify all national efforts to implement the national action plan for the reduction of under-18 marriages, and provide financial allocations for the implementation of its activities given the importance of the subject and its significant impact on society and girls in particular. Amawi noted that the Council's interest in developing the plan with relevant national institutions in the form of a participatory approach comes as a means of facilitating the implementation of the government's decision to activate the study’s recommendations conducted by the Council on child marriages. Furthermore, Amawi stressed that this is within the framework of the Council’s role as a reference for all population issues and information relating to development in order to contribute to the formulation of policies, strategies and action plans, follow-up on their implementation, and gaining support and raising awareness in order to face population challenges head-on.

Dr. Mohammed Miqdadi, the Secretary General of the National Council for Family Affairs, stressed that the National Council for Family Affairs functions on the basis of a participatory approach in aims of protecting children’s rights, providing them with all means of care, and ensuring their upbringing in a healthy family environment. This all comes in accordance with the directives of Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah (Chairperson of NCFA Board of Trustees).

Miqdadi highlighted that the Council had discussed the issue of early marriage in the second periodic report on Jordanian family conditions in 2018, which aimed at monitoring and analyzing the conditions of the Jordanian family by employing scientific methodology through surveying a sample of (2300) families. The results of the survey with respect to families’ attitudes towards the preferred marriage age showed that the average marriage age for females was 23 years, whereas for males it was 27 years. The survey results also indicated that 55% of families believe that the early marriage of female family members results with negative effects. Miqdadi indicated that the Council will take upon itself, in accordance with The Prime Minister's decision, to follow up on the national plan of implementing the “Child Marriage in Jordan” study recommendations within the framework of working with the Technical Committee to reduce the phenomenon of early marriage under the age of 18 years.

For her part, Dr. Salma Al-Nems, the Secretary-General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women expressed the Commission’s support for the national plan to reduce the child marriages in Jordan. She noted that the establishment of a comprehensive national plan is important for the coordination of efforts at the national level, taking all aspects and indicators into account to ensure confronting this kind of marriage.

Al-Nems stated that despite all efforts made towards the legislative change to narrow the use of exceptions in the instructions for granting marriage permissions for those under the age of 18, we are fully aware that the legislation alone is not enough to resolve the problem of child marriages. Therefore, we must focus on the root causes of child marriage, such as confronting poverty and preventing girls from dropping out of schools, in addition to emphasizing the importance of raising awareness and changing the societal culture regarding the concepts associated with this marriage and its negative effects. Al-Nems pointed out the Commission’s current focus on awareness through the implementation of the EU-funded Regional Development and Protection Program, which kicked-off as a result of the Child Marriage campaign carried out by the Commission entitled "Too young to be married" two years ago; this program was implemented in cooperation with the Supreme Judge Department.

Wafaa Bani Mustafa, a member of the House of Representatives, praised the distinguished national efforts in dealing with the issue of child marriage, and stressed the importance of collaboration and integration in this area, noting that the House of Representatives and Senators fully support the national plan to reduce child marriage.

Bani Mustafa stressed that the reduction of child marriage is a national issue of concern to all segments of the Jordanian society. She noted the importance of complying with the instructions and limiting the power of exception to the narrowest scope possible so as to include extremely special cases of child marriages because Jordanian women have the right to experience their childhood before becoming wives.

The Director of the Program Unit in the Higher Population Council, Dr. Sawsan Al-Daajeh, gave a presentation on the National Action Plan to reduce the marriage of those under 18 for the years (2018-2022). Al-Daajeh stated that the Plan included a set of results to be achieved in this area represented in supportive legislation to reduce child marriage, the availability of health and psychological services to support affected cases, the implementation of programs to reduce child marriage under the age of 18, in addition to the positive change in the beliefs and behaviors of community members towards child marriage