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How do gender norms shape adolescent trajectories in post-pandemic Jordan?

Briefing/policy papers

Written by Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Nicola Jones, Agnieszka Małachowska

Over the past decade, adolescence has come to be seen as an age of opportunity. This is in part because of the physical transformations wrought by puberty, which are considered second only to those experienced in infancy and early childhood in terms of their scope and speed, and in part because of how children’s place in the family and broader community shifts as they mature (Dahl et al., 2018; Viner et al., 2015; Steinberg, 2015; Sawyer et al., 2012; UNICEF, 2011). Many of those shifts are deeply gendered, meaning that girls and boys are typically launched on very different trajectories (Blum et al., 2017; Mmari et al., 2017; Perry and Pauletti, 2011). Alongside this reframing of adolescence, there has been a growing interest in the untapped potential of adolescents. The current cohort is the largest the world has yet seen (Sheehan et al., 2017; Ki-moon, 2016).

Capitalising on this youth bulge affords national and international actors an unprecedented chance to accelerate progress towards the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda (Guglielmi et al., 2022; Patton et al., 2016). In Jordan, where one-third of the population are refugees and nearly two-thirds are under the age of 30, there are widespread efforts to improve the life chances of adolescents and youth through policy and programming (Department of Statistics, 2022; UNICEF Jordan, 2022; Higher Population Council (HPC), 2021). These include government efforts, such as the National Youth Strategy and the National Action Plan to Limit the Marriage of Individuals under the Age of 18 (Jordan Ministry of Youth, n.d.; HPC, 2018), as well as donor efforts, such as UNICEF’s Makani programme.

Authors: Elizabeth Presler-Marshall, Erin Oakley, Nicola Jones, Sarah Baird, Sarah Alheiwidi and Agnieszka Małachowska