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Gender-based violence is a major threat to girls’ education, UNGEI says

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©Plan International 2013
NEW YORK, 5 March 2013 – Millions of girls around the world face violence and discrimination due both to their sex and age, in a variety of settings – including on the way to school and at school.  As the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) began its 57th session this week, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) called for concerted action to develop national plans to end school-related gender-based violence.

Education is an inextricable right of every child.  Yet, millions of girls around the world today are denied this right.

“Violence against children in schools is a violation of their fundamental human rights,” said Nora Fyles, head of the UNGEI secretariat. “Violence also breaks down trust in the entire school system. It has far-reaching effects that can damage the psyche of children, interfering with learning, and thereby eroding the potential positive impact that school can have on a society.”

Between 500 million and 1.5 billion children experience violence every year, many in and around schools, according to a new report by Plan International titled, “A Girl’s Right to Learn without Fear.” 

Girls more than boys, are raped, sexually assaulted, abused, and sexually harassed by their classmates and even by their teachers.

Yet, the nature of power relations between children and the perpetrators of violence as well as the fear of reprisals makes reporting a risky undertaking for children with far reaching consequences – poor performance, irregular attendance, dropout, truancy and low self-esteem as well as physical harm and pregnancy. 

UNGEI supports the call to action in Plan’s report that provides governments with practical evidence-based approaches to prevent and reduce school related gender-based violence and promotes action plans grounded in the realities of each country context.

The theme of this year’s CSW is “Elimination and prevention of all forms of violence against women and girls.” An event in partnership with UNGEI, UNICEF, Plan International and 10 x 10 will be held later today to draw attention to end gender-based violence in schools.

UNGEI stands committed to addressing this critical issue through its strong partnership and collaboration, the sharing of good practice and advocacy across the UNGEI network.

“Violence against girls in school is a critical development issue and an education issue. A safe space for all girls to learn and fulfill their potential;  Anything less should never be accepted,” Fyles said.

Please note: Media advisory on “A girl’s right to learn without fear,” CSW side event, 5 March, 2013.

For further information, please contact:
Shimali Senanayake, UNICEF Media, New York, Tel: + 1 917 265 4516, ssenanayake@unicef.org


 

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