Education unions join in the global call to end school-related gender-based violence


An article from Education International

On the occasion of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence 2017, the Global Working Group to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence, which Education International is part of, called to action for development actors, donors and governments, outlining necessary key steps towards ending this scourge.

Teachers are central to any effective response to school-related gender-based violence

The call to action is available here. Excerpts follow.

School-Related Gender-Based Violence (SRGBV) is a phenomenon that affects millions of children, teachers and education personnel, as well as their families and communities. It occurs in all countries of the world. Young people have different experiences of SRGBV depending on their sex, their gender identity, their country and context. SRGBV occurs as a result of gender norms and stereotypes, and is enforced by unequal power dynamics. Inequitable gendered practices are “performed” in schools through policies, pedagogies and curriculum, and through everyday relationships between and among students and teachers that establish a ‘gender regime’.

Schools are places of learning and growth, but can also often become unsafe spaces, where students, both girls and boys, can be victims and perpetrators of violence. Too often, teachers are viewed as part of the problem with regard to violence be it for administering corporal punishment or demanding sex in exchange for grades, for example. At the same time, schools are also places of work in which teachers and education support personnel can be both victims and perpetrators of violence.

Several studies have found that teacher training establishments do not necessarily equip teachers to challenge abusive behaviour and attitudes about violence against women and children. While there is limited data on the impact of SRGBV on teachers and education personnel, anecdotal evidence indicates that female teachers are particularly vulnerable to GBV, experiencing harassment and abuse at the hands of students, fellow teachers, school management, in teacher training institutions and systems of administration.

(article continued in right column)

Click here for the version in Spanish of this article, or click here for the version in French)

Question related to this article:

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

What is the contribution of trade unions to the culture of peace?

(article continued from left column)

Educators also witness discrimination, violence and abuse, which reinforces their vulnerability at school and at home. This poses a challenge, because violence is never excusable and teachers must uphold the highest standards of ethics and care. However, knowing that teachers too may be victims and understanding how this manifests can enable educational systems to provide informed support to teachers, so that they in turn can provide the best possible support and help for students and act as agents for positive change.

Globally, teachers must be valued as the most important education resource globally, who have a crucial role to play in ending SRGBV. Initiatives addressing SRGBV necessarily must involve teachers – not only in terms of enabling them to perform their duties of providing quality education to their students and promoting values of gender equality, non- violence, child rights and equity, but also by creating safe spaces for them to work in. It is imperative, therefore, to take a broader perspective on the role of teachers – as change agents and as professionals within the education system. Skills and capacity development must be combined with efforts to create an enabling environment where teachers can fulfill their duties and exercise their rights.

In recognition of the critical role teachers play in ending School-Related Gender-Based Violence, the Global Working group to end SRGBV calls on DEVELOPMENT ACTORS, EDUCATION UNIONS, DONORS and GOVERNMENTS to:

Recognise teachers as key influencer’s in the lives of children and in preventing school-related gender-based violence.

. . . . . . .

Adopt a systems wide approach in addressing SRGBVacross the education sector, so that teachers have a supportive enabling environment.

. . . . . . .

Work with education unions and Ministries of Education to shape policies and plans to address SRGBV.

. . . . . . .

Strengthen professionalism and accountability for SRGBV in the teaching profession.

. . . . . . .

Provide teachers with the skills and tools to address SRGBV.

. . . . . . .

(Thank you to Janet Hudgins, the CPNN reporter for this article)