The government together with the Forum for African Women Educationalists in Zimbabwe (FAWEZI) and other partners are running a campaign to make schools safer environment for the next generation by addressing issues to do with gender based violence.
Through a partnership FAWEZI, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI) is pilot testing the Whole School Approach to end SRGBV through FAWE Zimbabwe Chapter, in collaboration with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and a learning partner, Miske Witt Associates Inc. (MWAI).
The project enabled stakeholders to have a common vision about the kind of school they wanted and to identify strategies that would best respond and address school-related gender-based violence using the Whole School Approach (WSA). The WSA is a strategy that takes into account the interconnectedness of schools, communities, and families in order to improve the school environment for students, staff, and community members.
In his address, Dr Arthur Makanda of behalf of the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education said the constitution of Zimbabwe outlaws harm to children.
“Section 17 of the constitution is also dedicated to gender equality and urges the state to promote the full participation of women in all spheres on the basis of equality with men. The section addresses access to resources; elimination of gender-based discrimination in policy, law, and practice, the protection of women and girls from domestic violence, as well as protection of girls from marriage,” Makanda said.
Section 80 focuses on the rights of women and highlights the provision for equal opportunities, in political, social and economic activities.
“Furthermore our constitution prohibits the subjecting of any person, children included, to physical or psychological torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment,” added Makanda.
The violence that occurs in and around schools, commonly known as school-related gender-based violence or SRGBV, continues to be a serious barrier to realizing the right to education.
Gender-based violence is violence directed against a person because of their gender and is deeply rooted in gender inequality.
It continues to be one of the most notable human rights violations within all societies. The right of girls and boys to education is one of the most critical of all rights because education plays an important role in enabling girls to secure other rights.
Yet, the violence that girls and boys face at school continues to deter many of them from staying at school blocking their achievements.
While Zimbabwe has had many efforts to contain and even eradicate school-related gender-based violence, including various policies and laws that deal with violence against children, such as guidelines for addressing child abuse in schools, the prevalence of SRGBV and its implication on education is still evident.
Speaking at the same gathering, Virginia Muwanikwa from Zimbabwe Gender Commission said the violence that parents expose their children to at home has an impact on their behaviour at school.