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How Turkey and Jordan Treat Their Guests: Neoliberal National Policy and Negative Health Outcomes of Syrian Women Refugees

Willis, Taylor
Syrian women refugees living in Turkey and Jordan experience high rates of negative health outcomes. Syrian refugee women in both countries are considered “guests” instead of legalized refugees and experience low levels of employment, high rates of poverty, as well as inconsistent access to reproductive healthcare. The purpose of this research paper was to identify the root causes of the negative financial and physical health outcomes afflicting Syrian refugee women within these two countries, and identify possible state-sponsored remedies informed by conclusionary findings. The design of the paper sought to compare the national policies of Turkey and Jordan to identify similarities and differences in legal infrastructure toward refugee care. The paper also sought to identify how neoliberal ideologies in both countries have played a role in the development of refugee national policy and how this has directly impacted the health of Syrian women refugees. The paper also analyzed the participation of NGOs and IGOs within the countries and how their presence in relation to Syrian women could translate to national policy changes. The research conducted on this issue was done through secondary analysis of NGO and IGO field reports and academic publications. Major findings of the research demonstrate that neoliberal policies as they pertain to the absence of socio-legal statuses for Syrian refugees have devastating consequences on Syrian women refugees’ health primarily through rendering them unprotected “guests” which informs their inabilities to find work in the formal sector. A lack of formal employment positions Syrian women refugees in closer proximity to unemployment, poverty, malnutrition, reproductive trouble, as well as prostitution and human trafficking. When available, Syrian women refugees rely on NGO and IGO intervention to help prevent these negative health outcomes by seeking employment assistance, healthcare, and legal help from these institutions. Informed by the research contained in this paper, in order for the health of Syrian women refugees in both countries to improve, Turkey and Jordan must ratify their neoliberal national policies as they pertain to the “guest” status of refugees within their countries. By granting Syrian women refugees a state-supported foothold in the nation through legally defining them as refugees, asylum seekers, or migrants, they would be better equipped to find legal employment so that they could navigate and improve the other health aspects of their lives.
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