Resilience Mechanisms to Gender Identity Crisis and the Link to Radicalisation

A Comparative Case Study of Displaced Syrian Refugees in Jordan and Lebanon

Project summary

By war in Syria, respectively 650,000 and 1 million Syrian refugees have been displaced in Jordan and Lebanon and have been living in vulnerable socio-economic circumstances. Literature on gender differentiated coping mechanisms undertaken by Syrian refugees provides evidence of the reconfiguration of gender, in which the women act as the primary family provider whilst the men are mostly jobless. This research will explore how gender reconfiguration, as a means of resilience, may create a crisis of gender identity. The research will also examine the link between the gender identity crisis and the return to religion as a means of resilience.

This is a 30 month research project to be implemented in Jordan and Lebanon. The research sample consists of 120 Syrian refugee men and women, 60 in each country. The research relies only on qualitative methods, aiming to understand the life experience of poor refugee women and men. The outcomes of the research include publishing two country research papers with policy recommendations in the IGA website and an article in a peer reviewed international journal.

Project staff


Dr Aitemad Muhanna-Matar

I am an Assistant Professorial Research Fellow at the LSE’s Middle East Centre currently working on a research project investigating the gender impact of Syrian displacement in Jordan and Lebanon.

In 2014-216, I conducted a research on Tunisian Salafi youth and the driving factors of their radicalization. In 2013, I managed a regional research project in five Arab countries on Women’s political participation across the Arab region: Mapping of existing and new emerging forces in the region. In 2010-2013, I studied the historical trajectory of Gazan women’s religiosity, agency and subjectivity, drawing on different discourses of religion and secularism.

My PhD thesis in 2010 examines the effects of the Palestinian Second Intifada on women’s agency. My thesis was published in a book ‘Agency and Gender in Gaza: Masculinity, Femininity and Family during the Second Intifada, by Routledge (2013). In the period 1996 to 2008, I was working as a consultant with the World Bank, UNDP, UN Women, Oxfam-GB and Save the Children based in the Palestinian Occupied Territories.

My consultancy work was concentrated on themes of gender mainstreaming, poverty reduction, good governance, capacity building, partnership, monitoring and evaluation and youth development. I have also garnered substantive experience in policy analysis and development planning through my work as a policy advisor for the Palestinian Ministry of planning. I contributed as a senior gender researcher to the production of the annual Palestinian Human Development Reports (PHDR) during the period 1998-2006.