Recognizing the vital role women play in social cohesion, UN Women has developed a unique model to respond to the urgent needs of Syrian refugee women and girls in Za’atari and Azraq refugee camps as well as poverty-stricken areas of Jordan, the Oasis empowerment center. The primary objective of the Oasis model is to ensure that humanitarian efforts and resilience-building initiatives in Jordan better cater to the needs of Syrian women refugees and vulnerable Jordanian women. This initiative aims not only to enhance political and social stability and economic development in Jordan, providing increased protection for women, but also to contribute to the overall stability of the region.
The Oasis model draws clear links between women’s empowerment, sustainable development and Jordan’s security and stability, demonstrating how to leverage operational activities to contribute to UN Women’s normative and coordination mandates. To respond to the national context, the Oasis model employs a “resilience and empowerment” approach, designed to build the short and medium-term resilience of Syrian refugee and vulnerable Jordanian women, while also promoting the long-term enabling environment for empowerment and Jordan's sustainable development, as well as supporting the evidence base and knowledge needed to advocate for, and implement, needed normative and policy frameworks, and change social norms.
Since the start of implementation in 2012, the Oasis centers have evolved over time to become multi-sectoral service centers focusing on needs-based cash-for-work programming and skills development with strong links to protection awareness targeting the most vulnerable women and girls, while also engaging men and boys in dialogue and mobilization for gender and social equality.
The Oases have been recognized by partners as successful models and are conceptualized around three building blocks:
- Livelihoods opportunities provided via cash for work and skill building including second chance education, evolving into sustainable income-generating opportunities.
- Strengthened protection including through gender-based violence prevention, awareness-raising and referral services.
- Leadership, agency, and civic engagement initiatives for women, while also engaging men on social issues related to gender equality and women's empowerment to enhance social cohesion.
These efforts target the most vulnerable women in Jordan, both Syrian refugee and Jordanian women, through partnerships with UNHCR and the Ministry of Social Development (MOSD).
The Oasis centers operate in 22 locations in Jordan. In non-camp settings, there are 18 centers operating in host communities across the Kingdom in partnership with MOSD, in addition to four Oasis centers running in Za’atari and Azraq camps. The Oasis model addresses key barriers to women's engagement in livelihoods, using cash for work income generation to meet basic needs, empowering women, and enhancing decision-making in households.
The Oasis model has demonstrated success in empowering women economically and socially, strengthening social networks, building confidence, and providing employment skills. Coming to the Oases and being part of the cash for work interventions also provided the participants with a sense of purpose, which positively affected their mental wellbeing and gave them the self-confidence to negotiate increased decision-making at home. The model of providing a holistic package of services has been effective in reaching out to the most vulnerable communities.
The Oasis model receives generous support through the EU Regional Trust Fund in Response to the Syrian Crisis, as well as the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the governments of Canada, Finland, France, Iceland, and Italy.