Building peace in the minds of men and women

New resource to help end school-related gender-based violence

20 December 2019

“Boys often mock girls and say vulgarities to them and pull their skirts up. It happened just yesterday during break. It happens every day. It was not hurting physically but I was ashamed.”

This experience of a child in Kazakhstan is all too common in schools and learning environments across the globe. From psychological abuse, to physical violence or sexual harassment, school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) comes in a myriad of forms and affects children in every region and country.

UNESCO and UNGEI, together with the Global Working Group to End School-Related Violence, has released a series of thematic briefs on the issue, outlining how to best prevent and respond to SRGBV. The briefs have been published together with other partners working to end school violence, including Safe to Learn and the Global Partnership for Education. The briefs look at the challenges and recommendations in dealing with SRGBV, and aim to help practitioners and policy makers apply a gender lens when developing violence prevention and response approaches. 

UNESCO Team Leader in Health and Education, Joanna Herat, says SRGBV violates children’s fundamental human rights and is a form of gender discrimination. “School-related gender-based violence affects millions of children in and around schools every year, and girls are particularly vulnerable. There are significant negative impacts on health and well-being, but beyond that, it also leads to poorer learning outcomes and higher rates of school dropouts,” Ms Herat says.

“This series of thematic briefs should become a valuable resource for those working to end all forms of violence in school, with a particular focus on gender-based violence. They provide solid guidance as to what really works to prevent and address violence, from properly engaging teachers, and involving the whole school community, to examining the curriculum and improving monitoring and data.”

The series includes:

  • Applying a whole school approach to preventing SRGBV;
  • Engaging teachers to create safe and gender-responsive learning environments;
  • Shifting harmful gender norms through curricular approaches;
  • Establishing safe and confidential reporting mechanisms;
  • Investing in data and evidence to inform the response to SRGBV; and
  • Integrating SRGBV into national policies and education sector plans.

The release of the thematic briefs follows the 16 days of activism against school-related gender-based violence, which this year explored a whole school approach to tackling SRGBV, and culminated on Human Rights Day on December 10, with an open letter appeal to countries of the world to end the violence. 

SRGBV refers to acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated as a result of gender norms and stereotypes and enforced by unequal power dynamics. Violence in schools is widespread and discriminatory gender norms are one of the key driving factors. As with all forms of violence, SRGBV violates children’s rights and is a significant barrier for girls’ and boys’ access to and participation in education.

The thematic briefs synthesize the latest learning and evidence from regional learning symposia on how best to prevent and address SRGBV held in West and Central Africa and East and Southern Africa in recent years.