How gender clubs in schools can be an effective tool to combat GBV

25Nov 2018
By Guardian Reporter
Dar es Salaam
Guardian On Sunday
How gender clubs in schools can be an effective tool to combat GBV

LITERATURE indicates gender-based violence (GBV) in the work place threatens the dignity, security, health and well-being of everyone.

MINISTRER OF EDUCATION, PROF JOYCE NDALICHAKO

It has an impact not only on workers and employers, but also on their families, communities, economies and the society as a whole. Gender-based violence globally represents an obstacle to development and implies significant costs for developing and developed countries’ economies alike.

TGNP's programme officer mobilisation and outreach Deogratias Temba said to ensure GBV is totally eliminated in the country right from the grass-roots, there is a need for Tanzania Gender Networking Programme (TGNP Mtandao) to conduct a sensitization campaign in schools.

He said training in primary and secondary school teachers can play a crucial role while at the same time establishing gender clubs in the respective schools. “We think it is difficult to wage war against GBV without the awareness and involvement other stakeholders,” he said. He added, “Through our knowledge centres we decided to start with primary and secondary schools in the neighbourhood to those centres to educate them on how to curb the spread and severity of GBV.” The mobilization outreach officer said through the initiative they have been able to train several primary and secondary schools in Mbeya, Kishapu, Tarime, Morogoro and Ilala municipalities.

They have also managed to train students and their teachers to ensure their schools establish gender clubs. According to him, through gender clubs they expect to form gender champions who will act as the watchdog against gender violence incidents happening in their areas and immediately report them to the responsible authorities.

“From there they will be in a position to know and respect each other and work together right from the beginning even before employment,” he said.

He detailed that the established gender clubs were under the supervision of some parents from the knowledge centres who have been empowered to be their patrons in their respective areas and by working closely with teachers.

Temba said schools are the right and best places to start with if the elimination of GBV is to be achieved because students spend most of their time in school than at any other place.

This means that any efforts aimed at eliminating GBV will be more effectively initiated in different schools than anywhere else.

“Most schoolchildren experience GBV and other related problems but are compelled to keep the grievance inside because they do not know the right recourse or where to turn to when such an act is committed against them.

“They don’t know the right direction to take in order to report such issues. Since we established gender clubs our students have been equipped with several gender and human rights issues and are able to fight against GBV so far,” he said.

He said schools that have not established gender clubs should do so to help create more awareness to students in a bid to fight against GBV, sexual harassment and other related issues.

Temba further noted that TGNP Mtandao in collaboration with the government has been tirelessly struggling to eliminate sex corruption in schools, in higher education institutions in particular, and at the workplace.

“At workplaces they have started by creating education awareness to female and male leaders in different levels; to directors and executives of organizations and companies, and common employees on the importance of reporting a GBV issue whenever it occurs.

Normally, sex corruption starts when one is seeking for employment,” he elaborated. He said through their education awareness on the importance of reporting, many people have been reporting GBV incidents.

Further, in the workplace TGNP has created a programme called safe spaces managed by their department. It requires women, especially those in employment or in decision making positions, be it in public or private organizations or corporate bodies to have the ability to freely discuss issues that touch their welfare in the workplace.

When these women meet to discuss their affairs, TGNP supports them with new views and ideas on how to face their challenges and address them.

“Meanwhile, we are looking forward to establishing safe spaces for men because many things that have been revealed by women are being caused by men,” he said.

With regard to men’s safe spaces they would mainly focus on the challenges they face at the workplace, how to properly treat women working under them by avoiding forms of gender-based violence such as physical, psychological and sexual violence.

Other findings show that although the Tanzanian constitution guarantees the right to work (Article 22, 23), and to equality (Art.12, 13); and although various positive policies have been developed, inequality and discrimination persist. There are still disparities in women’s access to employment, wages, benefits, and there is still job segregation and discrimination brought about by discriminatory laws and practices at work.

Hence, the need to review and update all labour and labour-related legislation to promote women’s employment. Tanzanian cultures and traditions are patriarch, which means that although women contribute a lot, they don’t own major means of production - land and capital.

Division of labour is quite distinct on what women and men can do. Gender-based violence is linked to patriarchy, which is “a system for maintaining class, gender, racial and heterosexual privilege and the status quo of power. Women and girls are the “primary targets for GBV [gender-based violence]”, and the perpetrators are mostly men.

Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples requires ratifying governments to adopt special measures to ensure that indigenous workers are protected from sexual harassment (Art. 20); the Domestic Workers Convention, 2011 (No. 189) bans all forms of abuse, harassment and violence (Art. 5) and the HIV/AIDS Recommendation 200 requires workplace measures to reduce the transmission of HIV and alleviate its impact by actions to prevent and prohibit violence and harassment (Para. 14).

Other ratified texts, such as the child labour and OSH conventions also indirectly address GBV. In a study across several regions of the United States, three-fourths of women suffering domestic violence were harmed or harassed at their workplace by abusive spouses or partners, either on the phone or in person.

Confrontation affects co-workers who step in to halt an altercation, as well as those witnessing an act of violence, whether committed by a colleague, client or stranger.

In addition to impacting interpersonal relations, violence can affect the way the work is organized, can reduce productivity, entail damage to equipment and ‘poison’ the working environment. ILO says that no other form of sex discrimination violates so many fundamental human rights as violence against women.

Workplace violence and sexual harassment present a significant barrier to women accessing and progressing through the labour market, and therefore ILO will never stop working to eradicate it.

ILO stands ready to assist its tripartite constituents, and to cooperate fully with the whole UN family to ensure a world free from violence against women and girls. Violence and harassment against women and men in the world of work has been a global practice.

While workplace violence can differ depending on a country’s development level, the most common forms occur everywhere. In the poorest countries unacceptable practices are often exacerbated by poverty. Each year, from November 25 to December 10, UN celebrates the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, Human Rights Day.

The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.

The theme for the 2018 campaign is, ‘End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work.’ This year’s theme builds on the momentum and achievements during the 2017 campaign when over 700 organizations in 92 countries campaigned around the theme of ‘Together We Can End GBV in Education.’

The goal for 2018 is to continue to target the institutions in which gender-based violence is perpetuated and push for systemic change and accountability.