Working with the education sector is critically important in ending violence against girls and women. Broadly it encompasses two areas:
- Ensuring that girls can access education without the fear or experience of violence.
- Leveraging the education sector to transform negative social norms, attitudes and knowledge related to gender and violence with boys and girls.
- Adopt legislation on zero tolerance of harassment and sexual violence in the education sector.
- Establish and strictly enforce well-defined policies/codes of conduct for teachers and all school staff to prevent violence against girls.
- Train teachers on their responsibilities as duty-bearers and on specific topics related to gender and violence and how to communicate these to students of different age/grade groups.
- Introduce or modify existing curriculum and materials according to age/grade appropriateness to address gender stereotypes and to address issues related to violence (e.g. conflict resolution skills for older youth; respectful relationships for dating age youth; or what kind of touching is OK or not OK for younger children, etc.) and violence against women and girls specifically.
- Explore innovative interventions for girls, such as formation of support groups or introducing counselors in the school setting that can provide a ‘safe space’ for freely expressing ideas, feelings and experiences, in addition to seeking advice from a trained professional.
- Establish protection units in schools, telephone “help lines”, and other means by which children can report abuse (USAID, 2009).
- Ensure that girls have safe access to and from and within school by being mindful of the location of schools (i.e. not in remote areas); the design and placement of the facilities (i.e. well lit rooms, corridors/hallways and toilet facilities); the scheduling of classes; and other measures that can be protective, such as providing safe travel arrangements or security.
- Mobilize parents, care providers, community leaders, youth-leaders and peer counselors, and organizations within the community and schools,
- Promote the establishment of school counsellors and service referral networks, and develop policies and protocols for responding to violence in schools.
- Most evaluations on school-based interventions to reduce violence against women have taken place in the global North. Results of these evaluations indicate that prevention interventions:
- with young children have not demonstrated clear results with respect to reducing sexual abuse against them;
- with pre-adolescents have demonstrated promise with respect to reducing psychological and sexual violence, but not in severe cases of dating violence; and
- with university aged youth have demonstrated improvements in attitudes and knowledge, but without clear evidence of sustained changes in behavior.
- Risk factors for perpetration (and victimization) of violence are complex and a number of these factors are particularly relevant in childhood (for example, poor parenting and care, child abuse and neglect). Starting prevention interventions early and with younger children has the potential to interrupt this course and instill more gender-equitable, respectful social norms and values. (Victoria Health Institute, 2007)
- Like other sectors, training alone is not enough to change a school environment. A whole school approach must be employed to address all aspects of the educational environment to ensure it is a safe space. The approach involves infrastructural considerations for safety; institutionalizing clearly-articulated educational principles and policies of zero tolerance for violence across all staff; and integrating violence against women and other important issues (e.g. conflict resolution, respectful relationships, etc.) into a comprehensive curriculum context that is reinforced in extracurricular activities through partnerships with organizations and clubs, parents and other community members and is strategically planned to take into account local needs and issues. (Government of Victoria, 2009)
Doorways Training Manuals on School-related Gender-Based Violence Prevention and Response (DevTech Systems/USAID, 2009). Available in English.
Sustainable Strategies for Safe Schools, Centre for Research and Education on Violence Against Women and Children (Centre for Research and Education on violence against women and children) Available in English.
Materiales para Prevenir la Violencia contra las Mujeres desde el Marco Educativo: Unidad Didáctica para Educación Secundaria (Centro de Profesores y Recursos, 2005). Available in Spanish.
What is a good school? Imagining Beyond the Limits of Today to Create a Better Tomorrow (Raising Voices, 2007). Available in English.
Examples of Grade-Specific Objectives for Skills-based Violence Prevention Education (UNESCO, 2005). Available in English.
Human Rights Education in the School Systems of Europe, Central Asia and North America: A Compendium of Good Practice (Council of Europe, OSCE/ODIHR, UNESCO, OHCHR, 2009). Available in English.
Child Friendly Schools Manual (UNICEF, 2009). Available in English.