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Global Guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence

Their names are Fatmata, Ana Lucià, Samreen and Gulnur. They are just four of the dozens of children that have testified in studies from around the world about the mistreatment, the bullying, the psychological abuse and the sexual harassment that they are experiencing at school. They are also just four of the 246 million children subject to some form of gender-based violence in and around school every year; children for whom school is not the safe haven that it should be.

Some of these children, particularly girls, are verbally or physically harassed, while others become victims of corporal punishment or sexual abuse. Some experience this violence in the classroom, while for others, it unfolds on the playground or on the way to and from school.

Yet there is one constant: school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is a global phenomenon. While it is aggravated in countries affected by conflict, it otherwise knows no geographical, cultural, social, economic or ethnic boundaries.

Its impacts on children and young people are far-reaching. Beyond the intangible suffering and health consequences of violence, it leads to anxiety, low self-esteem as well as depression, and it negatively impacts school performance and long-term educational outcomes.

Until SRGBV is eliminated in and around schools across the world, many of the ambitious targets set by the global community through the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), to provide safe and supportive learning environments, to end violence against children in all settings and to achieve gender equality and eliminate violence against women and girls, will not be realized.

That is where this Global Guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence comes in. The result of the combined expertise and leadership of UNESCO, UN Women and other partners, this Guidance will help us stand a better chance of supporting countries to end this global issue.

The Global Guidance provides key information to governments, policy-makers, teachers, practitioners and civil society who wish to take concrete action against SRGBV. It introduces approaches, methodologies, tools and resources that have shown positive results in preventing and responding to SRGBV. We are confident that this will contribute to further promote the generation of knowledge, evidence and standards of response against this pervasive problem. With the Global Guidance in hand, this is a key moment for all of us to ensure that SRGBV does not remain a barrier to achieving the SDGs.

We have a responsibility to provide inclusive and equitable quality education for all, which is not impeded by harassment, violence or abuse. UNESCO and UN Women invite the global community to affirm this important message and help ensure that no child or young person is denied the fundamental right to education because of SRGBV.