16 Days: Safe Schools - Day 13
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7 Diciembre 2012
As part of the 16 Days Safe Spaces campaign, WAGGGS is hosting an online debate to explore safe spaces in schools. Two Girl Guides have prepared a statement on the debate motion: ‘Violence is the biggest barrier to universal girls’ education.’
Check out the For and Against statements below and visit the Online Debate to cast your vote. Is violence the biggest barrier to girls’ education?
Violence is a major barrier to education for millions of girls across the world. Violence against girls takes many forms including rape, sexual harassment, and intimidation. It affects girls’ dignity as well as their right to education.
Education is one of the most effective means through which to protect and prevent girls from experiencing violence. But girls are victims of all the forms of violence that directly work against girl’s enrolment, participation, completion and achievement in their education. Additionally, girls still face violence within schools from teachers.
Violence in schools
Schools fail to protect the basic rights (including right to education) of girls in their school. It may happen on the way to school or within the school itself, and is done by teachers, parents or fellow students - all this causes an end to education for girls. Violence or fear to be violated is a reason for girls’ not attending schools.
Physical violence in schools, particularly bullying and corporal punishment, affects girls especially and may cause the end to their education.
If there is a long distance that children have to travel, parents are less likely to let their daughters make the journey because of the risk that they may experience violence.
Early & Forced Marriage and pregnancy
Forced marriage is another form of violence against girls which is a barrier to girls’ education and also harms their health. Girls are young and adolescent, their bodies are not capable to handle the stresses of pregnancy. Forced marriage has negative impacts on girls’ education as parents take girls out of school so that they get married.
Widespread sexual violence, as well as rape, may cause early pregnancy amongst primary and secondary school girls, causing the end to education for girls in many countries.
Gender Discrimination and access to education
Violence against girls and women in the society is also a barrier to girls’ education. In many cases, this violence, discrimination, and harmful traditional practices are keeping girls at home. In many families girls are treated as property, where they have no right and no equal access to education as the boy child in the same family, usually this violence have the same relationships with the society customs which doesn’t give the girls the right to the family property.
Parents still have a lack of understanding on education of girls, where they still have a mind of saying girls are there to be married and be domestic in her own house. They think also that girls are incapable. This is the big issue to the girls and their access to education, it is a psychological violence (sometimes girls underestimate themselves as a result).
Key to Development
As you know education is the major key to development. The millions of girls worldwide in developing countries who drop out of schools because of violence is a big challenge to the education of girl.
Violence is the key barrier in denying girls their right to education, it’s up to us, as advocates to speak out, raise our voices and take action and make an end to violence against girls, Together we will succeed!!!
Educational Policies and Gender Equality
Gender equality in education is a fundamental right, a basic principle of equality of opportunity and a source of development. Around the world, 69 countries have not attained gender equality in enrolment in primary education, and 26 of those countries have fewer than 9 girls educated for every 10 boys. This global gender gap means that 3.6 million additional girls are not educated at a primary level. Admission in the first year of primary school is often unequal, favouring the boys. Among those 69 countries, the education rate for boys is higher than that of girls from the start of primary education.
Violence is undoubtedly one of the main barriers to education for young women, but it is not the only one. Early marriage, early pregnancy and early employment are in fact just as significant impediments to keeping girls in school.
However, educational policies themselves can represent even greater obstacles to girls’ education. Governments should create policies which help integrate young girls into the education system on an equal and equitable basis. Even special measures that favour girls should be taken. The majority of the world’s countries adopted the Millennium Declaration and integrated the Millennium Development Goals into their national strategies. The first Goal seeks to guarantee universal primary education by 2015. Almost two years from the deadline, many countries find themselves falling behind, as they are unable to define gender-specific strategies, with a focus on the enrolment of young girls. A flagrant lack of political will is often demonstrated, which is seen when governments do not prioritize the creation of strategies on the agenda which would guarantee equal access for boys and girls, even at the primary school level. The lack of financial resources is a too-often used excuse. Do we need to remind you that education is a right, and that the State, as the one who has to guarantee that right, cannot claim a lack of resources to justify its actions?
When girls do arrive in primary school, measures are rarely taken by the State to facilitate and favour their progression to secondary school. The number of pupils who drop out is clearly higher during secondary education. The deplorable quality of the teaching, in particular in rural areas, just adds to these factors. In fact, the lack of qualified personnel is just one more serious challenge facing many countries.
Furthermore, one of the significant failures in education is that the State does not propose alternative solutions, even in informal education. Young girls are abandoned to their own devices and are prey to all forms of violence, as a large number of them are excluded from the formal education system; many are double victims of violence as they do not have access to other forms of non-formal education.
The State has a duty to support private initiatives which aim to guarantee education to girls, young women and women, through social reinsertion centres or professional training.
 Education For All – Global Monitoring Report, UNESCO 2011