Gender Based Violence in Education

 By

Adekunle Akinde

 

 

Girls’ education is as paramount as boys’ education for the development of the society. Women should be given equal opportunity in terms of education. On this note let’s take a look at gender-based violence and education.

Gender-based violence can be described as any form of violation or discrimination neither directly or indirectly against female as a result of physical, sexual and psychological against women and young girl. These can occur inform of rape, sexual harassment and intimidation at work and school, forced prostitution and women and girls trafficking.

The UN Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women (DEVAW) adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1993 has been influenced by CEDAW General Recommendation No. 19. It defines VAW as: “Any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likley to result in, physical, sexual or psychological harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivations of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.” (Article 1) The declaration encompasses all forms of gender-based violence against women (physical, sexual and psychological), no matter in which context or setting they occur:

Gender-based violence most occurred against female sex than male across the world. While men and boys can also be a victims of violence through physical or verbal attacks for transgressing predominant concepts of masculinity. But the main focus here is violence against women and girls in schools because they are weak and vulnerable.

Meanwhile, it has been generally accepted that the majority of persons affected by gender-based violence are women and girls, due to imbalance dissemination of roles and power in the society between both sexes or as a result of gender discrimination.

The primary targets of GBV are women and adolescent girls, but not only are they at high risk of GBV, they also suffer exacerbated consequences as compared with what men endure. As a result of gender discrimination and their lower socio-economic status, women have fewer options and less resources at their disposal to avoid or escape abusive situations and to seek justice. They also suffer (…) consequences [on their sexual and reproductive health], including forced and unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortions and resulting deaths, traumatic fistula, and higher risks of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV.” (UNFPA Strategy and Framework for Action to Addressing GBV, 2008-2011, p. 7)

As discussed gender-based violence, it also important to look at forms; physical and non-physical violence.

Forms of violence against women are: Domestic violence, Sexual violence, Physical violence, Emotional violence, Psychological violence and Economic violence.

Gender-based violence occurs at workplace and schools environments as a result of demand for sex in exchange for job position, promotion and opportunity. As it affects both sexes, women and girls are most affected in the society. Gender-based violence limits girl’s access to education and challenges in finding jobs after graduation.

Students suffer sexual harassment in higher institutions as lecturers’ demands for sex in other for pass marks. These can result in unwanted pregnancy which leads to abortion. In most case such student becomes sexual slave as often demands. Such victims developed emotional trauma and gradually morally destabilized in studies as the perpetrators continues to demand more. Most female students have faced series of violence neither from lecturers or fellow mate due to their physical appearance and beauty. Women and girls with big bottom or breast are mostly attracted to men in higher learning environment.

In most case, some young girls have left schools and unable to further their education as they are not able to withstand the sexual harassment faced in the learning environments. Sometimes, some are forced out of school due to pregnancy as some school would not allow their reentry anymore. At this stage, it is important to know that both married men and single men demand for sex at every point in time. This leads to the following: kidnapping, threats, attacks, harassments, physical and sexual assault. It is a serious harm to the female sex as it results to unwanted pregnancy and abortion. Many cases of gender violence in schools go unreported or under-reported because students fear victimization, punishment or ridicule.

Gender based violence is not specific to a social group, tribe, ethnicity, religion or particular country but a universal problem that caused serious violation to women and girls. Gender-based violence absolutely distresses girls’ self-esteem and ability to learn in school. This is even worsened by the fact that parents are often hesitant to speak out.

The big question is “How can this be eliminates in the educational sectors?” or the learning environment.

The persistent inequality between both sexes holds society in doubt and eventually generational challenge. Poverty is another important factor influencing female sexual abuse in school, at work and society at large. This leads many young girls into sexual service in exchange for money (transactional sex) or the sugar daddy syndrome to meet their financial needs. While on campus at the university some young girls engaged in transactional sex to make income as others see it a fashionable.

According to a graduate of one university: I used to see posh cars parked outside girls’ hostel mostly on Fridays. Men with big tummies would pull their heads out and seduce girls as they pass from supper or classes. Eventually they would hook up with some girls whom they would take out for discos and drinking sprees. Many of these girls ended up pregnant or getting infected with HIV AIDs. It never occurred to me that this was gender violence until later after when I got sensitized on gender violence. In the modern society sexual services are treated as commodities that should be paid for. Some of the girls had more than one “sugar daddy” at a time. However, this interaction may have negative effects. Also the type of interaction between teachers and male and female students raises issues. Transactional sex for “good exam results” is replicated both between teachers and pupils in schools and between students and teachers in training colleges. In some situations this becomes normalised, “it’s the way things are” yet girls are blamed from becoming pregnant and damaging family honour. Many schools do not accept their reentry as mothers yet the punishment on perpetrators is minimal of it all.

PRECAUTIONS:

  • Boys should be enlighten and trained in schools on gender-based violence and violence against women.
  • Parents should avoid fighting each other at home and uses of abuse words in the presence of their children.
  • Parents/guardians and teachers should teach about gender based violence in schools, homes and religions places.
  • Parents should listen to their child and take ACTION when they report such cases.

CONCLUSION:

Together we can make our educational/ institutions and the world at large a safe place by eliminating violence in education.

Adekule Akinde is the Communication and Media officer of Centre for 21st Century Issues

 

 

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Keep Girls Safe in School in the 21st Century

Vivian  Ifeoma Emesowum 

 

A safe environment is instrumental for breaking patterns of violent behaviour in the society. It allows skill building that enable girls to communicate, negotiate and develop high self esteem to personal development. A safe school is a fundamental agent for achieving growth and leadership. It establishes behaviour patterns that reduce gender based violence in wider society. To invest in achieving a safe and gender responsive schools gives a girl the opportunity to reach her full potential and thrive.

Among the barriers that stop girls from fulfilling their full potential is school-related gender based violence (SRGBV).  GBV is a social and human rights problem that is rooted in social inequalities among men and women. It is a problem that occurs in all parts of the globe, and while GBV has gained more attention over the years, it remains inadequate. Gender-based violence covers child sexual abuse, sex trafficking, sexual assault, domestic violence, early child marriage, violence in schools, female genital mutilation/cutting, forced labor and more.  It limits girls’ enrolment, undermines their participation and achievements, and increases absenteeism and dropout rates. Kidnapping of girls is becoming another angle of violence in recent times. The kidnapping of about 276 girls from government secondary school in the town of Chibok in Borno state by the Boko Haram sect in April 14, 2014 will continue to be a story to tell in the history of Nigeria

Education is a human right and a powerful tool of empowerment, and schools are important spaces in which to build respectful relationships between boys and girls. Education can equip girls with the skills and knowledge to develop livelihoods and learn about their rights, and to break cycles of poverty.  However, girls all over the world face violence and intimidation in, around, and on their way to and from school.

Girls experience violence even in the hands of fellow students, teachers, school administrators and others. They may face sexual harassment, bullying, cyber violence or may be asked for sexual favours in exchange for good grades or school fees. In some communities, the route to school may be unsafe

Many girls, particularly the most marginalized, continue to be deprived of the right to education; they are more likely to have caring responsibilities within their families and when resources are short. The failure to ensure girls are able to access their right to education has profound effects on individuals as well as wider society. For girls, lack of education has lifelong consequences, such as increasing the likelihood they will enter into situations of economic dependence in which their vulnerability to violence may be increased. For society at large, the transformative potential of girls’ education is immense for the achievement of almost all development goals.

“Improve the safety of girls at and on the way to and from school, including by establishing a safe and violence free environment by improving infrastructure such as transportation, providing separate and adequate sanitation facilities, improved lighting, playgrounds and safe environments; adopting national policies to prohibit, prevent and address violence against children, especially girls, including sexual harassment and bullying and other forms of violence, through measures such as conducting violence prevention activities in schools and communities, and establishing and enforcing penalties for violence against girls”,

“Develop policies and programmes, giving priority to formal and informal education programmes that support girls and enable them to acquire knowledge, develop self-esteem and take responsibility for their own lives, including access to a sustainable livelihood; and place special focus on programmes to educate women and men, especially parents and caregivers, on the importance of girls’ physical and mental health and well-being, including the elimination of child, early and forced marriage, violence against women and girls, female genital mutilation, child sexual exploitation, including commercial sexual exploitation, sexual abuse, rape, incest and abduction, and the elimination of discrimination against girls such as in food allocation”;

The impact of violence in schools extends far beyond the act itself. School-related violence can lead to poor attendance, lower academic results, and higher drop-out rates – not to mention the emotional and mental toll it often causes. Girls who experience violence also have higher fertility rates and lower health status. In the face of danger, everyday school life becomes fraught with fear and anxiety – rather than being the key to a fulfilling future.

 

Vivian Ifeoma Emesowum  is the Executive Director of Grassroot People and Gender Development Center (GRADE) and secretary of Lagos State Gender Advocacy Team (LASGAT.)  She is a gender advocate, health educator, researcher, citizen journalist, a writer and grassroots development practitioner with over 15 years experience promoting sustainable development at the grassroots through innovative strategies in Nigeria.

 

AFRICAN UNION COMMISSION (AUC) CIVIL SOCIETY CONSULTATIVE MEETING ON THE NEW GENDER STRATEGY 2017-2021

RECOMMENDATIONS

We, representatives of Civil Society Organization (CSOs) promoting gender equality and accountability for women’s rights in Africa, participants to the “African Union Commission (AUC) Consultative Meeting on the New Gender Strategy 2017-2021, from 27-28 October 2017, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia organized by Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) Network in partnership with Women Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD) of the African Union Commission and Action Aid International;

 

WELCOME the development of the AU gender strategy for the period 2017 -2021which is in line with AU Assembly/AU/Decl.5 (XXV), Twenty-Fifth Ordinary Session, 2015, Johannesburg, South Africa, on aligning policies with Agenda 2063 and the African Union Commission’ approval to design a new strategy for gender equality and women’s empowerment in 2016;

 

ACKNOWLEDGE the invitation of diverse Civil Society Organizations. Media, Research Institutions and other Women’s Rights Organizations who are key in realizing the implementation of this strategy at all levels to contribute, participate and shape the new AU gender strategy including assessing the capacity requirements for its implementation, monitoring tools, harmonization with other frameworks and plans for its operationalization;

 

RECOGNISING that this process is timely in view of leveraging the gains made by the AUC on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment on the continent through policy frameworks that include the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA), Maputo Protocol and other ground breaking and gender responsive initiatives, the SDI tool for monitoring;

 

SUPPORT the ongoing AUC reform and call for strong integration and institutionalization of gender throughout all structures, policies and processes. In light of this, WE REQUEST for the mobilization of resources and a fund that will address women’s empowerment and accelerate the realization of gender commitments;

 

COMMIT ourselves to support AU Women, Gender and Development Directorate towards the realization of the AU gender strategy as partners in the development through to implementation.

 

We call the AU Gender Directorate mandated with the development of this strategy to focus on the following key priorities:

 

  1. Women Peace and Security– recognizing existing continental, regional, national and local level efforts on UNSCR1325 and follow up instruments;
  2. Securing Rights and Wellbeing of Women; eliminating all forms of GBV, harmful traditional practices and norms (child marriages, female genital mutilation, teenage pregnancies), access to comprehensive Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, and addressing HIV& AIDS;
  3. Women’s Agriculture, Environment and Climate Justice – Holistic approach and models across the value chains to transform women’s status, labor saving technologies and innovations;
  4. Women’s Leadership, Governance and Decision-making – at all levels taking into account transformative and intergenerational leadership in both public and private sectors;
  5. Quality Education, Training, and capacity building– founded on African Pan African values and principles and advancing Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics ( STEM);
  6. Women’s Economic Empowerment and justice – especially advancement in macro-economics, infrastructure, energy, technology and financial services, reducing,  and redistributing unpaid care work, gender pay gap and inequalities, access and control of productive resources.

 

We urge the AU Gender Strategy to incorporate the following substantive cross-cutting approaches and values as drivers of change towards achieving gender equality in Africa:

 

  1. Accountability to women’s human rights, justice, the rule of law and commitments as defined in the Solemn Declaration SDGEA, Maputo Protocol, Agenda 2063 and Agenda 2030;
  2. Mobilization and leadership of women and girls, thus adopting an inter-generational approach on the content of the issues;
  3. Adequate resource allocation, investment in women and girls and implementation of special temporary measures and innovative technologies;
  4. Strengthening the gender institutions and mechanisms at the African Union, regional, national and local levels:
  5. Fostering safe, secure and open space for civic engagement and women’s participation;
  6. Closing the gender data gaps through implementation of the Solemn Declaration Index and AU Gender Scorecard for monitoring and evaluating progress on gender equality;
  7. Addressing structural and systematic barriers that continuously perpetuate gender inequality and low status of women and girls in Africa.
  8. A holistic approach which includes addressing the intersections between patriarchy, unequal access to power and resources, and socially constructed norms, and failed economic models.,

 

APPRECIATE   the continued recognition by AUC that gender and youth are central to development and WE ASK for support for strengthening of the AU Gender Directorate’s in implementing its mandate and coordination mechanisms and continued support to civil society.

 

Dated at Addis Ababa this 28th Day of October 2017

Strengthening The Capacity of Women Organizations to Deliver on Gender and SDGs in Nigeria

 

 

 

Participants@ the training

Overtime, various attempts have been made to reduce the level of poverty in Africa, improve women’s socio-economic status, and ensure their access to land, water, sanitation and energy but it always appears no significant results have been achieved. The efforts seem not trickling down to the women on the ground

One of the programs that has enabled countries to measure the impacts of development efforts in recent times is the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which has now metamorphosed into the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and or the 2030 Agenda

The 2030 Agenda includes 17 goals and 169 targets aimed to transform our world by eradicating poverty and any cruelty that demeans human dignity. It is a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity which is expected to be achieved by year 2030. It is hoped that all countries and stakeholders acting in collaborative partnership will work towards the achievement of the SDGs without leaving anyone behind.

 

Ms Akosa Training participant

The Centre for 21st Century (C21st) and Echoes of Women in Africa (ECOWA) in partnership with Women Environmental Programme (WEP) organized a one day step down training on Gender and the SDGs. The training is part of the activities under the project “Women CSOs Networking to Realize the Sustainable Development Goals”, also called “Women2030 Project,” funded by the European Commission. The project is also being implemented in other countries of the world by other partner organizations namely: Women Engage for a common Future (WECF), Gender and Water Alliance (GWA), Global Forest Coalition (GFC), and Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law and Development (APWLD).

 

The workshop which held on 18th June, 2017 at the conference hall of West Africa Network for Peace building (WANEP) drew participation from women and gender focused NGOs, local and indigenous women  different Civil Society Organizations.

The overall objective of the workshop was to ensure that Women 2030 project builds a base in Africa that will ensure women’s needs are addressed. This was done through emphasizing the importance of gender for policy advocacy and SDGs, movement building, organizational management and the use of social media in gender and SDGs advocacy. Advocacy can be done for particular issues including the SDGs.

The training was interactive and facilitators engaged participants in group work. Skills and what participants do on SDGs were mapped out at the training. This was to help them identify their issues and take action appropriately.

 

CSOs who participated in the training  easily identified the gender and SDGs areas where their organizations have been working, the advocacy approaches they are using; which range from visible approach such as community mobilization and media campaigns to less visible approach such as advocacy letters and research.  They were also able to note the advocacy skills that stand them out and the ones they need. They expressed desire to improve their writing, mobilization, communication and research skills; all tools needed for effective advocacy on gender and SDGs. This information will enable the facilitators assist them more on the.

Apart from the fact that participants at the training were exposed to indepth knowledge on gender and SDGs and how their organizations can impact the grassroots, government and the private sector successfully, other significant features of the Women 2030 programme is to help emerging CSOs stabilize and also help with organizational development, sub-grant to those working and doing what aligns with 2030 project and those who have grafting skills in writing shadow report will be engaged.

Participating CSOs were content with the skills and awareness imbued in them in other to enable them forge alliances that will bring about the impactful implementation of the SDGs in Nigeria.

Ms. Damilola Adeoye

Program Officer

Centre for 21st century Issues (C21st)

 

 

 

 

Participants in group work session