Children of Jordan – اطفال الاردن

Children of Jordan: An Overview:

The child population in Jordan is about 3.8 million, constituting about 40% of the total population. The youth in Jordan constitute about a third of the population; they are the change-makers and decision-makers of the future, and the group that we should invest in to the best of our ability.

Including refugees, non-Jordanian children, who are mostly Syrians, constitute about a third of the Kingdom’s population. The number of Syrian refugee children in Jordan is 350,000, constituting about 48% of the total number of Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Children in Jordan have specific rights under the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) to which Jordan is a signatory, in addition to the rights guaranteed by the Jordanian constitution, which include the right to survival, education, development, protection and participation.

Jordan has taken great strides since signing the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Achievements in this respect include the following:
Under 5 mortality rate has declined by more than a third
97% of children are currently enrolled in schools.
Gender parity in terms of educational opportunities has been achieved since 1979.
Universal access to improved water is at 97%, and sanitation facilities at 99%.

Although the Jordanian constitution provides for the protection of the right to work and education for its citizens under Article 6 of the constitution, which stipulates that “The Government shall ensure work and education within the limits of its possibilities, and it shall ensure a state of tranquillity and equal opportunities to all Jordanians”, it did not ensure the right to health. Meanwhile, the government provides health insurance for children under the age of six.

However, not all children have enjoyed the aforementioned gains. Girls still face concerns with regard to protection, including early marriage, while boys are still more likely to drop out of school due to violence or to earn an income to support their families. Children living in the poorest areas, including refugees and children from the most vulnerable communities, are at risk of increased poverty and negative coping mechanisms. Children with disabilities also face greater challenges in accessing education and other services.

Refugee children also suffer from difficulties in accessing education; about 84,000 out of 233,000 Syrian children of school age are out of school.

One in five children suffers from a multidimensional condition of poverty. Poverty rates vary from one governorate to another, ranging from 11% in Amman to 27% in Ma’an. Poverty incidence and the poverty gap tend to be higher in rural areas; while in absolute terms, most poor Jordanians live in the densely populated governorates of Amman, Irbid, and Zarqa in the centre and north of the country.

86% of registered Syrian refugees in Jordan live below the poverty line. The situation for refugee children in Jordan remains precarious due to the depletion of family savings and unemployment. Many refugee families depend on international aid to meet their needs.

Almost a third of Jordan’s population is young – a number that is expected to continue to rise. When children enter their second decade of life, they become change-makers and decision-makers, and they need investments to make sure that they are equipped with the skills and ideas that enable them to make a positive contribution to their society. 33% of the youth in Jordan are currently unemployed.

Jordan remains in an unstable environmental situation. It is one of the most water scarce countries in the world, and with its growing population and rapid urbanization, water resources and infrastructure became under great pressure and stress

The COVID-19 pandemic also had its negative impact on children in Jordan, as is the case in most countries of the world. The most vulnerable children were the most affected by the pandemic, as it caused a larger percentage of children to drop out because of their inability to access learning resources due to the lack of internet packages or electronic devices.  Moreover, surveys carried out by institutions concerned with childhood issues indicated an increase in violence against children during the pandemic as well as an increase in poverty rates among vulnerable families prompting them to adopt negative coping methods such as pushing their children into the labour market, begging and child marriage.

Why do we need a child rights law in Jordan?
  • The child population in Jordan is about 3.8 million, constituting about 40% of the total population. The youth in Jordan constitute about a third of the population; they are the change-makers and decision-makers of the future and the ones that should be invested in to the best of our ability.
  • Jordan has an assortment of national legislation related to childhood. Yet, the reality on the ground over the years has shown a weakness in coordination among the relevant official entities, accompanied by the existence of legislative gaps and loopholes related to the childhood sector.
  • The existence of these gaps and loopholes along with poor coordination in role distribution at times requires the development of national legislation to serve as a standard reference document for all childhood related issues and at the same time help bridge these gaps.
  • The Jordanian Child Rights Draft Law comes as a fulfilment of policies and strategies pertinent to the Jordanian family and the child.
  • Aside from being a national interest and imperative, Jordan is committed, according to the International Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), ratified by Jordan in 1991, to introduce a law that protects children in the Kingdom. Furthermore, the International Committee on the Rights of the Child in Geneva has more than once addressed questions to the Jordanian government concerning the law, requesting for an acceleration of its adoption, as the government has already prepared the first draft in 1997, that is, about 22 years ago.
  • The issuance of a child rights law is a translation of the constitutional amendments, particularly those pertinent to Article (6) of the Constitution that states: “The law shall protect motherhood, childhood and the old aged, and shall avail care for the youngsters and people with disabilities and protects them against abuse and exploitation.”
  • The draft law provides comprehensive protection for the rights of children residing in the Kingdom, starting with the right to life, health, family care, protection from violence, education, the rights of the most vulnerable groups and the well-being of all children. Aside from filling the gaps in other legislation, the law also stipulates penalties for those who commit violations against children such as abuse and denial of the right to education.
  • International studies show that the return on investment of one dollar in childhood ranges from 7 to 16 dollars, which would render the commitment to the law as a feasible investment for the state and society.
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