Project: Working with teacher unions to end school-related gender-based violence

Working with teacher unions to end school-related gender-based violence

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strategies for ending violence in schools in Africa

Background information 

In 2013, UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) and Educational International (EI) established a strategic partnership to launch a change process to support a transformation in inequitable gender norms in the education union movement. The initiative put teachers, education personnel and their unions at the forefront of efforts to end SRGBV. At the 2015 World Congress, EI passed a global resolution urging its 400 member unions, comprising a total membership of 32 million education professionals, to support efforts to reduce SRGBV. It was in this context that the project Education Unions Take Action to End SRGBV was launched in January 2016, with financial support from Global Affairs Canada. 

The mission of the SRGBV initiative 

To enable teacher unions to develop effective and sustainable approaches to addressing school-related gender violence as it manifests itself in the education system, and in different countries and union contexts.

Working with teacher unions in sub-Saharan Africa to end SRGBV

From 2016 to 2019, the Labour Research Service supported the implementation of the SRGBVinitiative in sub-Saharan Africa in collaboration with Gender at Work

Education Unions Take Action to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence in Africa

What is SRGBV?

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. SRGBV ranges from bullying, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, non-consensual touching, sexual coercion and assault, rape and corporal punishment. According to the UNESCO/UNGEI/GMR Policy Paper 17 (2015), SRGBV prevents millions of children and adolescents from exercising their right to a safe, equitable and inclusive quality education;

  • 246 million children experience SRGBV every year; 
  • Over half of all children live in countries where they have no legal protection from corporal punishment;
  • Up to 10% of adolescent girls in 40 low and middle-income countries reported forced sexual acts in the previous year 

Who is affected?

Students (boys and girls), teachers and education support personnel can be both victims and perpetrators of school-related gender-based violence. 

Why does SRGBV matter?

  • SRGBV is a violation of both the right to quality education and the right to decent working conditions.
  • SRGBV is correlated with lower academic achievement.
  • SRGBV is a major barrier to the achievement of UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 4 (on education) Sustainable Development Goal 5 (on gender equality), and AU’s Continental Education Strategy for Africa Objective 5;

Project participants

Nine member organisations of Educational International in Africa, namely:

South Africa
South African Democratic Teachers Union
South Africa
National Professional Teachers’ Organisation of South Africa
Zambia
Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia 
Ethiopia
The Ethiopian Teachers’ Association
Uganda
Ugandan National Teachers Union
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone Teachers Union
The Gambia
Gambia Teachers Union 
Ghana
Ghana National Association of Teachers
Zambia
Basic Education Teacher’sUnion Of Zambia
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Project structure

Pillar #1: Enhancing the capacities of the participating EI member organisations to address SRGBV by systematically testing, adapting and disseminating innovative approaches at all levels within union structures. 

Pillar #2: Advocacy, policy dialogue and knowledge sharing activities to leverage the participating unions’ engagement with a broad range of actors and stakeholders at the national, regional and global levels.

Project Outcomes

Policy

  • Resolution on SRGBV adopted by the 7th EI World Congress (2015)
  • Resolution on SRGBV adopted by the 9th EI Africa Regional Conference (2018)
  • Resolution on Corporal Punishment adopted by the 8th EI World Congress (2019)
  • Resolution on Eliminating All Forms of Sexual Harassment & Sexual Violence within Education Unions adopted by the 8th EI World Congress (2019)
 

EI Structures and member organisations

  • Progress on the project is regularly reported to the EI Status of Women Committee;
  • SRGBV is a priority for EI’s sub-regional and regional African women’s networks – each of the four sub-regional women’s networks organised sessions on SRGBV as part of their annual meetings during the project. Since 2019, Gender Coordinators must include updates about their unions’ work on SRGBV when presenting their gender progress reports at the annual meetings of the sub-regional women’s networks; 
  • A total of 129 EI member organisations across all regionsare involved in work to prevent and respond to SRGBV.

Partnership engagements

  • EI continues to actively participate in the Global Working Group to End SRGBV
  • Unions participating in the project have joined other stakeholders in the Global Working Group to discuss strategies and approaches to addressing SRGBV in global Learning Symposiums and similar regional events.

Key project contact: Nina Benjamin | nina@lrs.org.za

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