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“Our World Is Shaking Because of Corona”: Intersecting Crises and Disrupted Life Transitions among Young People in Ethiopia and Jordan Pre- and Post-COVID-19

Journal issue/article

Written by Nicola Jones

Image credit:© Nathalie Bertrams/GAGE

Our article explores how intersecting crises, sociocultural norms around gender, age, household and community and broader political and economic shifts are affecting youth transitions. We draw on qualitative virtual research with 138 young people in Ethiopia and Jordan undertaken between April and August 2020. COVID-19 is exacerbating ongoing crises and gender inequalities in Ethiopia and Jordan and foreclosing opportunities for youth transitions. In Ethiopia, the pandemic has compounded the precarity of young people who have migrated from rural to urban areas, often to locations where they are socially marginalised. In Jordan, the confinement of young people affected by forced displacement to their households with extended family during pandemic-related service closures augments existing perceptions of an extended ‘waithood’—both psychosocially and economically. In both contexts, conservative gender norms further entrench the restrictions on adolescent girls’ mobility with consequences for their opportunities and wellbeing. This article makes an important contribution to the literature on gender, migrant youth and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic by showing how multiple crises have sharpened the social and political (im)mobilities that already shaped young men and women’s lives in Ethiopia and Jordan and the consequences for their trajectories to adulthood.

Authors: Nicola Jones, Kate Pincock, Sarah Alheiwidi and Workneh Yadete