ICMC social worker helps refugee women speak their minds

Mafraq, 5 July 2017 - ICMC social and aid worker, Dalia*, helps Syrian refugee women to speak their minds and overcome silence. Dalia first joined ICMC as a social worker in 2013 and now provides support to both men and women on subjects such as sexual- and gender-based violence, domestic violence and early marriage.

ICMC's team in Mafraq.Dalia’s most meaningful work has been assisting women who are vulnerable to early marriage, which has long been a widespread tradition in certain areas of Syria. Photo: ICMC/ N. Banks A Syrian herself, Dalia had previously volunteered in Damascus and Homs and was particularly interested in working with vulnerable women. She developed a comprehensive understanding of the risks that Syrian women and girls face as refugees. She points out that restrictions on economic and social mobility of women, access to basic services, and rates of early marriage for Syrian women are the most prevalent issues in the Mafraq refugee community. In response to these struggles, Dalia’s role is to provide a better understanding of attitudes, practices and knowledge among the Syrian community.

“More awareness of the negative impacts of these practices are needed, not just for the mothers and daughters, but for the fathers, too,” she shared.

Dalia’s most meaningful work has been assisting women who are vulnerable to early marriage, which has long been a widespread tradition in certain areas of Syria. For instance, 13% of Syrian girls under 18 were married in 2011. “It has always been a practice in Syria, but we are trying to educate these families on the risks of early marriage, including social isolation, economic dependency, and early pregnancy,” Dalia explained.

In a recent interview, she recalled a young Syrian girl, Rola*, 15, who attended Dalia’s focus group discussions. Rola’s father intended to marry her imminently, against her wishes. “Rola’s father wanted her to get married to reduce costs and for social status,” Dalia explained. “She didn’t want to get married, but when we met her she was silent.”

For Dalia, empowering women to speak up and find their own independence is essential for recovery. She is extremely proud of the outcome of Rola’s story. Dalia recounted how Rola wanted to continue her education so she could work and support herself. She went to her father and insisted she be allowed to do so. Because of the support and services provided by ICMC, Rola’s father agreed to delay her marriage so she could finish her education.

“Cases like these help me find new meaning. Even one successful case is enough to restore my faith in my work,” Dalia concluded.

*All names have been changed to protect the identity of the person.

 

Read more on how ICMC is assisting Syrian refugees and vulnerable Jordanians in this outreach report.