Standing together to end the cycle of violence

Violence against children in or around schools must not be tolerated a new statement released by the Global Partners’ Working Group on school-related gender-based violence says.

An estimated 246 million girls and boys suffer from school-related violence every year, according to UN figures and Plan International (NGO). Girls and boys may be harassed and abused on their way to school and at school. Far from being a safe space for learning, schools in many countries can be a place of danger, where children experience acts of bullying, corporal punishment sexual or verbal harassment, non-consensual touching, rape and assault.

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a human rights issue and is a barrier to achieving education goals.  Although both girls and boys can be targets of SRGBV, violence against girls, particularly sexual violence, is more widespread.

In August 2014, a coalition of governments, development organizations, civil society activists and researcher institutions formed to collaborate in ending gender-based violence in and around schools. The Global Partners’ Working Group on SRGBV will take action to ensure that schools remain safe places for learning and ensure that girls and boys have the opportunity to acquire the knowledge, skills and resources they need to reach their potential. 

To mark the International Day of the Girl, and its theme ‘Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending the Cycle of Violence’, members of the Group took part in a policy roundtable hosted by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Development and Plan International on 8 October in Paris. The event:

 Mobilized policy makers and education actors for advocacy and action;

Brought together government, researchers and practitioners to highlight current realities, successes and challenges; and

Set in motion a campaign to put SRGBV on the international development agenda    

At the event, Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO highlighted that it was imperative to integrate gender equality in public education and stated that, “School gender-based violence effects wider patterns of violence in society, and is a matter of collective social responsibility”.

In the coming year, the Global Partners’ Working Group on SRGBV will help galvanize the international community to take a strong stand against SRGBV, help establish standards for response and promote the collection of evidence to monitor trends and improve practices.

The Group includes 30 of the leading agencies and institutions promoting girls’ education and gender equality, and is co-hosted by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) and UNESCO, with funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).