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Study on Identifying Cash for Work Opportunities for Women in Za’atari Refugee Camp

Originally published


1. The Study

1.1 Purpose and Structure

The purpose of the study is to identify opportunities for women to engage in Oxfam’s CFW across Za’atari Camp.

The specific objectives of the research were to:

  • Review existing Oxfam CFW posts that can be targeted for women;

  • Identify key barriers (physical and non-physical) to women’s participation in CFW as well as key strengths for women engaging in CFW activities implemented by Oxfam;

  • Propose possible interventions to overcome existing barriers and build upon possible strengths; and

  • Propose new semi-skilled and skilled CFW activities which can engage women in Za’atari Camp, with a specific section exploring the potential of activities linked to Oxfam’s recycling operations.

This report focuses on Syrian women refugees in Za’atari Camp and aims to add further insights into women’s livelihoods, evolving socio-cultural dynamics, and mechanisms of inclusion in CFW activities. Building on previous studies conducted by Oxfam and other INGOs, the research specifically explores how emerging social trends and local relations affect women’s participation in CFW activities (in particular SWM and recycling), and how this is further influenced by other aspects of women’s lives (e.g. access to child care). In conclusion, the report suggests action points to tackle the identified obstacles.

The report is structured as follows. This section lays out the scope of research and methodology used. Section 2 sets the context of the Za’atari Camp and Oxfam’s CFW activities. Section 3 presents the findings looking at the key barriers to women’s participation in CFW. Section 4 makes recommendations in particular with regard to Oxfam’s SWM and recycling projects.

1.2 Methodology and Limitations

The study was conducted during September – October 2018 and drew on desk research as well as qualitative field research in Za’atari Camp (Districts 6, 7, 8, 11).

Fifteen semi-structured focus group discussions were organized between October 7-19, 2018 with 88 respondents (33 women and 55 men). The research team developed interview protocols including a list of questions and additional probing questions to ensure that all aspects pertinent to this study were covered. All FGD protocols are attached as Appendix 1.

All sessions were conducted at Oxfam camp base and each session lasted for approximatively one hour and half. All participants were mobilized by Oxfam Community Mobilizers in the camp, who also provided the research team with a schedule and participants’ characteristics. Additionally, interviews with Key Informants including Oxfam, NRC, LWF staff were conducted2. Overall the study was conducted as planned and no major incidents occurred. However, the research team would like to note the following limitations:

  • Logistical aspects: due to difficulties related to obtaining camp access permits, three focus group discussions could not be held (18 FDGs were planned in total, 15 FDGs were held). Given the time constraints, the FGDs could not be rescheduled. However, the research team considered that the sample that was interviewed (88 people) was representative enough to draw conclusions. Triangulation of information showed that answers given did not vary much between groups (both male and female) so there was no need to hold extra meetings.

  • The nature of the study: this is a qualitative study, which has a deliberately exploratory nature. The research team did not conduct surveys and the numerical / quantitative data in this research come mostly from secondary sources. The research team considered that even though the number of respondents that could have potentially been reached through door-to-door surveys might have been higher than the number of participants in FGDs, the possibility to discuss aspects in more detail and have a direct communication with Za’atari camp inhabitants was chosen as the preferred way of collecting data. Our focus was on going into deeper analysis of the underlying reasons for the identified obstacles rather than colleting a list of pre-defined options / answers. The research team considered that the FGD approach generated a richer picture of women’s evolving norms and economic lives, and different challenges faced, even though only collective / group estimates were gathered on women’s participation and remuneration, and this data remain less precise in terms of the more quantitative dimensions of women’s involvement in CFW.

1.3 Sample Demographics

The sample included Syrian women and men living in Za’atari camp of various age groups (from adolescents to the elderly, the youngest participants were in their early 20’s and the oldest in their mid-80’s). Separate FGDs were held for men and women, who were grouped into two age categories (below age 30 and age 30 and older), and according to their CFW status (those who never participated and those who were involved in CFW).

Marital status: 85% of the respondents reported being married with three to six children (this number includes divorced /separated persons, and widows). 96% of males involved in this assessment defined themselves as responsible for a household with an average of six family members. 15% of female respondents were single women, with no other family members.

Education: Most of respondents can read and write in Arabic but not in English, the level of education did not vary substantially between men and women in the sample (secondary school). Most men had been involved in agricultural / farming work prior to coming to the camp and all women did not work / had household duties.