The Higher Population Council Releases findings of the Child Marriage Study

Sunday, July 30, 2017

The Higher Population Council released the findings of the Child Marriage in Jordan study at an event attended by the Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, Emad Fakhouri, and representatives of stakeholder organizations.

The study aimed to identify the scope, chronological trends, and social impact of child marriage in Jordan.

Through this study, HPC sought to enhance cooperation among stakeholders in advocating a policy environment and programs to help reduce child marriage in Jordan.

During the launching ceremony Fakhouri said that the approach of the government seeks to enhance collaborative research and dialogue among all stakeholders to create the foundation for comprehensive sustainable development across all fields and promote the wellbeing of citizens. Fakhouri indicated that as we stand at the threshold of a new phase of collaboration with governorate council and municipal elections about to take place, giving Jordanian women and girls the opportunity to play a greater role in development and decision-making.

Fakhouri said that the study sheds light on the prevalence of the phenomenon among Jordanians and non-Jordanian women, identify the causes and various impacts, and discuss with stakeholders proposals that help minimize the phenomenon and its consequences.

Fakhouri added “Jordan is amongst the countries that pioneered in formulating clearly-defined population policies according to international standards and coordinating population-related activities in Jordan, as it recognizes the importance and connection of such issues with sustainable development”.

Fakhouri said that the government has placed significant focus on issues related to Jordanian women, making her a key partner in all development issues. The government has been committed to achieving gender equality, localize SDG goals and targets and integrate them in national development plans while taking into account all challenges and obstacles that hinder Jordanian women and girls’ ability to assume a meaningful role in development and progress.

Fakhouri mentioned that he headed a Jordanian delegation last week that included representatives of civil society institutions, human rights, women and youth, to present Jordan's national voluntary report (NVR), which was prepared in a participatory manner, during the high-level policy forum at the United Nations attended by all member states, where Jordan presented a roadmap for implementing the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Fakhouri indicated that the sustainable development agenda emphasizes the importance of women's empowerment, equality and gender mainstreaming in national development plans and programs, and the need to empower women and girls and achieve gender equality, providing access to statistical data disaggregated by gender, age, and region. Fakhouri noted that target 3 of the SDG 5, which revolves around the marriage of minors, requires all stakeholders to collaborate to develop an executive plan to reach the 2030 goal, to achieve gender equality and equity and overcome related challenges.

Fakhoury considered the study an outcome of distinguished efforts of by the Higher Population Council to follow up on demographic shifts in Jordan and emerging demographic issues, and recognized the effort of the team that prepared it, which included the Department of Statistics, the National Commission for Women's Affairs, the National Council for Family Affairs and the Islamic Center Association.

Fakhouri noted that the use of statistical data from the 2015 Population and Housing Census and the Supreme Justice Department served as a remarkable example of the ability of national data to give indications about child marriage in Jordan, and recognized the contribution of the Department of Statistics to the success of the study.

Fakhouri added that enabling girls to reach a sense of self-achievement is possible when there is a will and desire for success, and depends on what the government, the private sector and civil society provides in terms of healthcare, education, jobs, and on encouraging girls to play a role in development, except that child marriage undermines girls’ abilities and denies them their most basic rights.

Fakhouri explained that the high child marriage rates among Jordanian and non-Jordanian females requires us all to assume our responsibility of combatting this phenomenon and its negative impact. It is imperative that we create a supportive environment for social change by raising awareness of all groups of society about the negative impact of child marriage, and strive to guarantee the basic rights of married minors to education through non-formal education as well as support and development of reproductive health programs.

Fakhouri stressed the need for collaboration among concerned parties from the government, the private sector and civil society to address the causes and find suitable solutions in accordance with a time-bound executive plan, identify stakeholders and their roles in addressing the problem, and develop parallel awareness programs targeting citizens to warn them against associated risks.

The Council of Ministers approved the recommendations of the study and gave instructions to all concerned stakeholders to implement them as per the matrix. The recommendations called for addressing the issue of girls dropping out of schools, making education mandatory until the secondary education level, developing and implementing a comprehensive plan to raise awareness about child marriage and its negative impact on individuals, families, children and society, in general.

The recommendations also touch upon the importance of providing financial support to families that may resort to marrying off their daughters out of poverty and limited financial resources while continuing to provide family guidance and awareness, abolishing paragraph (b) of clause 10 of the Civil Status Department Law, developing prevention and treatment programs and services, developing a national strategy to reduce child marriage, directing scientific research towards addressing intervention shortfalls in protecting girls and treating child marriage as a serious issue..

During the workshop today, an executive plan will be developed to follow up on progress towards reducing this problem and implementing the matrix with all partners.

Fakhouri further said that the role Jordanian women play in creating educated and dedicated families that believe in moderation calls for presenting recommendations that define the future action needed, share responsibilities to address this problem as the government deals with a pressure as challenging as the Syrian refugee crisis which many advanced countries could not deal with, especially as we face economic and financial crises due to the surrounding circumstances.

In her opening remarks, HPC Secretary General, Engineer Maisoon Al Zoubi, said that HPC regards child marriage as a violation of the legitimate human rights of girls, and that denying such rights negatively impacts the quality of life and reproductive health of girls as well as the ability of families to carry out its duty of bringing up children, noting that child marriage threatens efforts that aim to invest in the demographic window of opportunity as it impacts demographics.

Al Zoubi explained that international agreements and treaties have focused on reducing child marriage given its negative impact on women and the fact that it denies them the basic rights stipulated in these instruments. Al Zoubi noted that the study sheds light on the scope and impact of the problem and motivates decision makers to take decisions to curb it.

Al Zoubi further noted that HPC pays special attention to child marriage in an attempt to enhance demographics and set the stage for youth to play a more effective role in the demographic transition which the Jordanian community is experiencing and transform it into a true opportunity for development and prosperity.

Al Zoubi called for placing greater focus on child marriage, developing relevant strategies to address it, creating awareness plans, and directing scientific research to address this issue and its consequences. Al Zoubi indicated that child marriage rates have increased as a result of the Syrian refugee crisis and mainly prevails in 23 regions.

HPC Researcher, Ghaleb Al Azzeh, presented the findings of the study, and subsequently, HPC organized a discussion session that focused on recommendations to address child marriage.