Gender-based violence (GBV) is a global phenomenon that knows no geographical, cultural, social, economic, ethnic, or other boundaries. It occurs across all societies and represents a brutal violation of human rights, the worst manifestation of gender-based discrimination and a major obstacle to the achievement of gender equality. It is tolerated and sustained by social institutions, including the school, the very place where we expect our children to be safe and protected. It is a serious obstacle to the right to education and learning, with implications for the ways that people understand and enact their social lives and exercise their citizenship.
The extent to which children are exposed to school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) was brought to the attention of the international community by two studies commissioned by the United Nations Secretary-General in the past decade: the Global Study on Violence against Children1 and the In-depth Study on All Forms of Violence against Women, both published in 2006.2 The global presence of SRGBV seriously compromises the ability of UNESCO’s Member States and the international community to meet commitments towards the provision of human rights.
Education has been identified as one of the priority areas for strategic intervention. However, the transformative potential of schools to empower individuals, to champion gender equality and challenge violence against women and girls depends on a school environment that is itself safe and violence free. This review of current issues and approaches in policy, programming and implementation responses to SRGBV has been commissioned by the HIV and Health Education section in the Education Sector at UNESCO to contribute to the development of comprehensive evidence-informed policy guidelines for the prevention and elimination of SRGBV in and through education.