It’s simple: violence against women exists in various personal and professional settings. One in three women throughout the world will experience some sort of sexual violence in their lifetime. It is an epidemic. Such violence not only creates physical and emotional scars, but it impedes all forms of progress. It keeps women from being equal participants in the workforce, and as a result, nations that do little to curtail violence against women are losing about $5 billion per year in healthcare costs and lost productivity.
This gendered violence is seen even greater in school settings, where gender discrimination leads young women to perform poorly or even drop out of school. This leaves many young girls illiterate and impoverished. Known to the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative as “School-related gender-based violence” (SRBGV,) this form of violence against women affects millions of female students worldwide. Such violence goes far beyond just physical violence, but includes all forms of gender bullying, and verbal harassment as well.
The U.N. recognizes the importance of eradicating violence against women in schools. Partnering with Education International and the Global Education First Initiative, the U.N. Girls’ Education Initiative announced a Joint Statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on November 25. The Statement sees SRGBV as a “serious obstacle” to the U.N.’s Education for All and Millennium Development Goals.
“Too often, SRGBV remains undetected, unreported, and even overlooked in school, the very social institution where children are expected to be safe, protected, and empowered,” reads the U.N.’s joint statement. “Yet teachers, schools, and education systems are also fundamental in transforming practices, attitudes, and values. Quality education for all can only be realized in safe and supportive learning environments.”
Addressing violence against women in school settings must be a priority for any global education initiative. The U.N.’s joint statement on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women is hopefully an effective step in stopping this epidemic.
– Taylor Diamond