Today marks the start of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign, coordinated by the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative. This year’s theme, From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All, highlights the need to end school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) and stresses the urgency of ending this debilitating practice now.
In March this year, the GMR jointly released a policy paper with UNGEI that explicitly outlined the effects of SRGBV on education and made recommendations for the future. This policy paper helped lead the march towards UNESCO confirming its first ever resolution on SRGBV: ‘Learning without Fear’. It also heavily influenced the 16 steps that are outlined in the call to action for today’s campaign
What is School-related gender based violence?
SRGBV is defined as ‘acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring in and around schools and educational settings as a result of gender norms and stereotypes and unequal power dynamics’.
The phenomenon is far-reaching, affecting an estimated 246 million boys and girls in and around schools every year according to Plan International.
It should not be assumed that SRGBV affects only girls. Boys can be affected too. Evidence suggests girls are at greater risk for sexual violence, harassment and exploitation, perpetuated by male students and teachers. Boys are more likely to experience frequent and severe physical violence and bullying. Both girls and boys can be perpetrators of school-related gender-based violence as well. Boys are more commonly perpetrators of physical bullying, and girls more likely to use verbal or psychological forms of violence. Yet cases are not always clear cut: girls also commit violent acts and boys also experience sexual abuse.