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‘Life Is Tight Here’: Displacement and Desire amongst Syrian Refugee Women in Jordan

Morgen A. Chalmiers

Initiatives to increase Syrian women’s access to sexual and reproductive healthcare services are embedded within longer-term interventions that seek to promote women’s empowerment, increase demand for family planning services and reduce the national fertility rate – a strategy that development economists suggest will assuage the country’s economic woes and reduce unemployment (USAID SHOPS 2015). Within development discourse, the high fertility rate amongst Syrian women in Jordan (4.7) compared to that of Jordanian women (2.6) has become an object of concern and investigation (DOS 2019). Nationwide surveys have sought to quantify factors that may contribute to high fertility such as healthcare access barriers, religious beliefs, a male partner’s objection to contraception, and concerns or misconceptions about contraceptive side effects (USAID JCAP 2016). These hegemonic discourses implicitly construct Syrian women’s high fertility as a problem that stems from lack: a lack of healthcare access, a lack of agency within the marital relationship and a lack of education or knowledge about contraceptive methods.

Related Series

This series, published in association with the Refugees Studies Centre, University of Oxford, reflects the multidisciplinary nature of the field and includes within its scope international law, anthropology, sociology, politics, international relations, geopolitics, social psychology and economics. Browse series volumes.

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Celebrate the International Day of Action for #WomensHealth on May 28th with free access to related articles from the following journals until June 4.

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