International Women’s Day 2018 – A Photo Essay

March 8 marks International Women’s Day (IWD) – a day that recognizes the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women around the world.  For the past few years, I’ve shared photos from some of the amazing women that I’ve met around the world (photo essays from 2015 and 2016).  Today is no different.

And, in a time of the MeToo movement, Times Up, and the release of a letter signed by more than 1,100 aid workers on sexual harassment, abuse, and exploitation in the aid sector, recognition of women around the world for their value, strength, perseverance, and accomplishments is needed now more than ever.

I’ve spent the past 2.5 years in Jordan and have had the opportunity to get to know some incredible women during my time here.  From the Jordanian women I work with to the Syrian refugee women who are doing their best to survive and care for their families in a difficult situation, I’m inspired everyday by the women of Jordan.  On this IWD 2018, I want to share photos from just a few of the brave and strong women I’ve met in Jordan.


Women of Azraq Refugee Camp

One of the places I do a lot of my work in Jordan is Azraq Refugee Camp – where more than 53,000 Syrian refugees are registered.  Three in ten households in Azraq are headed by women.  And, 57% of the camp’s residents are children.  Azraq Refugee Camp is located in Jordan’s eastern desert and can be a bit of a desolate location.  While many humanitarian organizations are working to provide assistance to Syrian refugees in the camp, needs continue.

A young refugee woman carries books between villages of Azraq Refugee Camp


Refugee women carry groceries to their homes in Azraq Refugee Camp


A big sister plays with her brother in Azraq Refugee Camp


Refugee and Vulnerable Jordanian Women in the Host Community

In Jordan, more than 80% of Syrian refugees live outside of refugee camps and live in what is called the “host community” of the country.  (This just refers to areas of Jordan, both rural and urban, outside of a refugee camp.  These refugees rent apartments or houses, send their children to public schools, and live daily lives alongside Jordanians.)  The presence of these refugees has strained Jordan’s public services and infrastructure and also impacted vulnerable Jordanians — many of who need assistance themselves and have worked to support the needs of refugees in their communities while making ends meet for their own families.  These are a few of the refugees and Jordanians living in Amman that I’ve had the opportunity to meet and get to know in recent years.

A Syrian refugee with hearing impairments, Aya, participates in speech therapy while her mother and siblings look on.  I first met Aya in 2015 when she received hearing aids through a project I was working on in Amman.  Over the past 2.5 years, I’ve seen Aya grow into a opinionated, outgoing toddler who now is able to hear and communicate with her family.


A young girl picks out new glasses frames with the support of an optometrist in Amman. The glasses will help to keep her enrolled in school, ensuring a better future for her and her family.


Two refugee sisters model the new glasses that they received to prepare them for school. As the family contemplates returning to Syria, these new glasses will help the girls whether they stay in Amman or return back home to Syria to help rebuild their country.


Two Syrian refugee sisters and their mother discuss the challenges that they face living in Amman as the conflict in Syria continues.


It’s women like those pictured above who inspire me to the work that I do, and I want to recognize on this IWD.  I’m thankful for the opportunity to meet these Syrian and Jordanian women and girls and that they have taken the time to share their stories with me.  As the conflict rages on in Syria and civilians continue to get caught in the crossfire, its women and girls like those pictured above who give me hope for the future of both Jordan and Syria.


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