The issue of gender-based violence in and around schools and other educational settings is particularly important to education unions and their members. Since everyone in schools – teachers, students, support personnel - can be perpetrator and victim, SRGBV is a violation of both the right to quality education and the right to decent working conditions. Given the alarming statistics on the prevalence of violence and harassment in educational settings, there is no doubt that the time to act is now. Over the last five years, Education International and its member organisations have demonstrated our commitment to ensuring SRGBV ends. We have done this, among other things, through resolutions adopted by our global Congress (the highest EI decision-making body) and by ensuring the issue gets on the agenda at major events such as our quadrennial EI World Women’s Conference. UNGEI has played a key role in building a collective commitment to end SRGBV across the global education community. Of equal importance, we have created new and lasting connections between education unions and other partners working on SRGBV at regional and national levels. UNGEI has also helped to shift the global understanding that if we are to end SRGBV, teachers are part of the solution, not the problem. For Gender at Work, this collective initiative has demonstrated that if we work with teachers and teachers’ unions, it is possible to transform the informal institutional norms, policies and practices that perpetuate gender-based violence. Empowering teachers to take ownership and develop their own strategies is a novel approach to address a problem that is globally pervasive and has proven intractable in the past. We recognize that the greatest and most long-lasting actions must be taken in the places where teachers’ potential to be change agents can be most effective: in their unions, in their communities and in their classrooms. The Education Unions Take Action to End SRGBV programme enabled EI member organisations in different sub-regions of Africa to do just that. The entire EI family, UNGEI and G@W take considerable pride in the leadership shown by the participating unions. It has been inspiring to see how union leaders, officials and members have seized the opportunity to make a difference. The experiences shared here include a rich variety of actions that education unions can take, as well as strategies and policies they can adapt and use in their efforts to address SRGBV in their different contexts.

Tags: GBV, Schools

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