Schools at the heart of this year’s 16 days of activism against gender-based violence

One of the saddest aspects of gender-based violence is that it does not spare anybody and this includes school going children.

According to a survey on youth conducted across four regions, an estimated 246 million girls and boys experience school-related violence every year and one in four girls say that they never feel comfortable using school latrines.

Although the extent and forms of school-related violence experienced by both girls and boys differ, evidence suggests that girls are at greater risk of sexual violence, harassment, and exploitation.

In addition to the resulting adverse psychological, sexual and reproductive health consequences, school-related gender-based violence is a major obstacle to universal schooling and the right to education for girls.

Child marriage is part of a cycle of violence perpetrated against women and girls; we will not end violence against women and girls as long as girls marry as children.

In many cases, parents feel it is in their daughter’s best interest to marry young and that marriage will protect her against physical or sexual assault. Yet this belief is often mistaken, as the earlier girls marry, the greater risk of violence, which can have devastating effects on their long-term development and health

Girls who marry as children are at risk of violence from their partners or their partners’ families. They are consistently more likely to be beaten or threatened by their husbands than girls who marry later. The greater the age difference between girls and their husbands, the more likely they are to experience intimate partner violence

The theme of the 2017 Campaign against gender-based violence is “Together We Can End GBV in Education!” This year’s theme builds on the momentum and achievements during the 2016 campaign, when over 700 organizations in 92 countries campaigned around the theme of “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All!”

In 2017, the goal is to continue to build awareness and advocate for an end to all forms of gender-based violence in education and those affecting education once and for all.

The 16 days of Activism against Gender Violence is an annual global campaign that starts on 25th November, International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women and ends on 10th December, Human Rights day.

Initiated in 1991 by participants of Rutgers University Center for Women’s Global Leadership’s, New Jersey, USA, the 16 Days Campaign has become an international annual event that rallies activists, government leaders, students, academia and the private sector in many countries around the world to demand an end to gender-based violence.

Photo courtesy of NGO Pulse

The decision to create an annual campaign lasting 16 days was based on the need to emphasize violence against women as a human rights issue by symbolically linking it to two important annual dates: 25th November, International Day Against Violence Against Women, and 10th December, International Human Rights Day, with the 16 days between them devoted to 16 days of action to call for elimination of all forms of gender-based violence wherever it occurs.

Other important dates that take place during the 16 Days Campaign are International Women’s Rights Defenders Day on 29th November, World AIDS Day on 1st December, and the and the Anniversary of the massacre at École Polytechnique in Montreal, Canada, when 28 people, including 14 women, were murdered by an attacker who claimed he was “fighting feminism,” and called his female victims “a bunch of feminists” whom he blamed for ruining his life.

Since its inception, the 16 Days Campaign has become a global effort thanks to the thousands of grassroots organizations and activists that have claimed full ownership of it, the growing participation of national and international NGOs (INGOs), governments, and UN agencies, students and academia, the private sector, and the development of electronic communications.

To date, approximately 2,800 organizations in 156 countries have participated in the 16 Days Campaign

How can you help?

Every individual can take action to end violence against women and girls. Throughout the campaign period, starting 25 November to 10 December, the GBV sub-sector will show that individual action can go from personal steps to action at the national level. The 16 Days of Activism should let people know that everyone has the capacity to take action to stop Gender Based Violence.

It is an opportunity to re-energize our commitments towards the promotion of gender equality by enhancing women participation in decision making through advancing their efforts in leadership including elective positions and economic empowerment.

The theme also reminds us about our commitments towards peacebuilding and the need to put in place mechanisms that promote safe access to education, strengthen safety in schools and review the education systems and curriculum to ensure existing barriers that promote gender disparity in schools are addressed.

The 16 days of activism campaign is a time for everyone to contribute to the change process that will ultimately create safer environments for men, women, boys, and girls to thrive. Be part of the change process. Commit now to end violence against women and girls.

Each one of us can contribute to the change process that will ultimately create safer environments for men, women, boys, and girls to thrive. I am part of the change process. Join the 16 days of activism against Gender Violence. You too can make a difference. Commit to ending Gender-based Violence.

Here are some of the messages that you can use to campaign for our women, girls, and boys,

  • Zero tolerance for gender-based violence in education!
  • We all have a role to play in ending gender-based violence in education!
  • No education, no progress! Help end gender-based violence in education.
  • Act to end gender-based violence in education!
  • Make it a Reality – End gender-based violence in education!
  • Gender-based violence in education is a human rights issue!
  • My life, my body, my education!
  • Together we can End gender-based violence in education!
  • A safe education is a basic human right!

 

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