Eliminating SRGBV: FAWE’s model to protect the African Child

by Julie Khamati, Programme Assistant, FAWE.

While Sub-Saharan African governments acknowledge the value of education attainment for all as a driver of economic and national development, school related gender-based violence (SRGBV) continues to be a continental barrier to access and participation of learners in school (African Union 2020).

Despite being recognized as places of personal development, learning and empowerment, schools often perpetuate some forms of violence and discrimination particularly with a bias against girls.  According to UN Women (2016), 246 million children are subject to various forms of gender-based violence in and around the school every year. This is exacerbated in conflict and post conflict situations and for minorities and vulnerable learners. Some of the common forms of SRGBV include bullying, corporal punishment, and sexual harassment (UN Women, 2016). Worldwide, at least one in ten girls between the ages of 13 and 15 is likely to experience sexual violence and boys within the school are likely to experience severe corporal punishment (UNESCO, 2017). Millions of learners live in fear of physical abuse disguised as discipline. In addition, millions of learners face significant barriers reaching school everyday both in rural and urban areas and this affects their overall class attendance. For example, in some countries ‘boda-boda’ riders tend to prey on school going girls and engage in transactional sex for basic needs such as sanitary products and meals (Education News, 2022).  

Efforts have been made globally to address SRGBV with schools acting as violence prevention centers (UN Women, 2016). The African Union, through its Continental Education Strategy for Africa 2016- 2025 (CESA 2016 -2025) under pillar 3, champions for the need to eliminate any forms of violence within the school and training setups. Further, the Gender Equality Strategy for the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (GES4CESA) developed by FAWE on behalf of African Union exemplifies the commitments to curbing SRGBV in learning institutions.

Understanding contextual differences in African countries is key to preventing and addressing SRGBV in education institutions. Recently, FAWE developed a mirrored approach manual in response to a global call to prevent, respond and adopt mechanisms to stop SRGBV. The manual draws strongly from best practices documented under FAWE models including the Gender Responsive Pedagogy and Tuseme “Let’s Speak Out[1].”  Given FAWE’s understanding of the African context, the manual recommends solutions and preventive measures relevant to the context. The FAWE mirrored approach SRGBV manual is two-fold and as such, targets both school administrators and learners, and aims to strengthen their capacity to identify, prevent and respond to SRGBV. Lastly, it also offers monitoring and evaluation tools that are instrumental in tracking the effectiveness of measures put in place in schools to prevent SRGBV.

Addressing SRGBV calls for concerted efforts from different partners and FAWE continues to spearhead interventions that aim to eliminate all forms of violence in schools and promote access, enrolment, and performance of learners in school.

[1] Tuseme (‘Let Us Speak Out’in Kiswahili) enables female youth empowerment and gender awareness by enhancing girls’ self-esteem, leadership, social and life skills, and promotes a positive attitude amongst boys towards girls’ education.

“We have demonstrated the need to have statistical data on violence against women” Danessa Luna, Executive Director of ASOGEN

By Danessa Luna, Executive Director of ASOGEN

The Asociación Generando Equidad, Liderazgo y Oportunidades (ASOGEN) is an association of women in Guatemala recognised for generating and facilitating spaces for citizen participation, leadership, political analysis, defence and empowerment of women’s human rights with cultural relevance, generational, and gender equity.

One of ASOGEN’s main lines of work is the prevention of and attention to violence against women, from a human rights and feminist perspective. Guatemala is one of the worst countries for women globally. According to the EM2030 SDG Gender Index, Guatemala shows very poor performance on two indicators related to women’s physical safety:

• The percentage of women over 15 years of age who reported not feeling safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live, with a score of 44/100;
• The number of women killed as victims of intentional homicide (per 100,000 inhabitants), with 19/100 — making it one of the worst rated countries in Latin America.

Faced with this problem of gender inequality, ASOGEN offers comprehensive accompaniment to women and girl survivors of violence, which is a fundamental part of our strategy of empowering women as a sustainable measure to eradicate violence. Advocacy is one of the approaches we work on most within the organization to influence not only the community, but also national-level decision makers in order to achieve changes to public policy and, consequently, in women’s lives.

The women who have participated in ASOGEN’s programme have managed to break the cycle of violence they had experienced for years within the home; some have managed to gain access to justice and combat impunity while others have managed to empower themselves in their rights as women, being multipliers of their learning.

At ASOGEN, we have had significant achievements in recent years making use of data for advocacy. For example, ASOGEN is the main driving force behind the opening of specialised bodies such as the Court and Tribunal against Femicide in Chimaltenango, where we have demonstrated the need to use statistical data on violence against women, children, and adolescents in the region of Chimaltenango.

Another achievement was the opening of a temporary shelter for women survivors of violence in the Chimaltenango area. With the use of statistical data, we were able to obtain public funds and we also received a donation of a piece of land for the construction of the shelter building.

The partnership between ASOGEN and EM2030 will strengthen ASOGEN’s work on three main levels:

  • Within the team: to increase its knowledge and improve the local and national advocacy work that is already being carried out;
  • At the local level: alliances with leaders who work for gender equality will be strengthened in order to continue to have a greater impact on the use of data in each strategy;
  • At the national level: ASOGEN aims to be recognised nationally for its ability to use evidence and gender data to obtain more results in the advocacy work that allows the promotion and approval of legal frameworks and public policies in favour of women in Guatemala.

This alliance will also strengthen our skills to effectively communicate data so that more audiences join the fight against gender violence, the call for justice at the heart of ASOGEN’s work.