AMMAN — The NGO CARE International on Monday announced the opening of a competition for a $20,000 grant to local organisations focusing on activities to combat gender-based violence (GBV) in the Middle East and north Africa region.
The competition, titled “CARE’s RELAY! GBV Challenge”, will surface and scale proven approaches to understand, prevent and respond to GBV in emergencies, with a special focus on vulnerable women and girls such as refugees and displaced individuals, according to a statement issued by the NGO.
The two selected organisations will receive a $20,000 unrestricted grant and an opportunity to partner with CARE to scale their efforts, according to officials at the NGO.
Both non-profit organisations and for-profit social enterprises with a legal identity are eligible to apply for the grant before November 17.
The impact of child marriage in Jordan has worsened since the onset of the Syrian refugee crisis, according to CARE Jordan’s most recent urban assessment, which noted that “Syrian refugee families continue to seek to marry off their daughters at a relatively early age to both Syrian and Jordanian men, in order to reduce the financial and protection burdens of the family”.
“Women and girls, often the most vulnerable group within an already dire population, face particular challenges in a refugee context,” the NGO said in its Jordan Challenge Brief for the competition, pointing out to issues such as increased early marriage, distress and depression due to uncertainty about the future, fear for family members back in Syria and lack of livelihood opportunities, and increased GBV including high levels of intimate partner violence.
“Over 10,000 girls under the legal age of 18 are wed each year in Jordan, which lessens their chances of continuing their education,” Sisterhood Is Global Institute President Inaam Asha said during the launch of the campaign “Nujoud” against child marriage earlier this year, noting that the number of marriages in Jordan stands at around 80,000 per year, 10,900 of which involve girls aged 15 to 18.
Aiming to tackle the problem, new regulations were issued by the Cabinet in July to regulate the legal age for early marriage for girls, addressing the exceptions that allow for the marriage of teenages between the age of 15 and 18.
The new regulations included provisions that allow for a maximum of 15-year age difference between the husband and the wife, provided that the would-be husband is not married and that marriage would not prevent the girl from pursuing her education.
However, the regulations drew criticism by activists and women groups in Jordan, with many describing it as a “step backwards”.
Former culture minister Asma Khader claimed that “the new regulations do not specify how a judge can check the criteria for such marriage such as if the groom is qualified and the girl really fit to be married”, while Secretary General of the Jordanian National Commission for Women (JNCW) Salma Nims emphasised that the regulations stipulating the exceptions were not new, stressing the commission’s position that “all forms of exceptions [to the 18-year-minimum age requirement] should be removed, but, if the exceptions are to remain, then it should be raised to 16”.
The regulations should ensure “limitations in cases of child marriage and only apply to clear cases that could affect the lives of the individuals if they do not wed”, Nims added, pointing out that the JNCW has previously proposed to form a special committee comprised of experts to study each case individually and make a decision, so that the marriage “does not only depend on the sole discretion of a judge”.