United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization
7 place Fontenoy, 75352 Paris 07 SP, France
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) functions as a laboratory of ideas and a standard-setter to forge universal agreements on emerging ethical issues. The Organization also serves as a clearinghouse – for the dissemination and sharing of information and knowledge – while helping Member States to build their human and institutional capacities in diverse fields. UNESCO is working to create the conditions for genuine dialogue based upon respect for shared values and the dignity of each civilization and culture.
At its 197th session, UNESCO Executive Board adopted the Roadmap for UNESCO’s programme on preventing and addressing school-related gender-based violence (197 EX/SR.8)
In its Medium-Term Strategy for 2014-2021, UNESCO accords priority to gender equality in all its fields of competence supported by a dual approach, gender specific programming and gender mainstreaming, in Member States and within the Organization. UNESCO is fully engaged in pursuing this commitment through concrete, substantive programmes and initiatives in all its fields of competence (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0022/002272/227222e.pdf) as captured in an organization-wide “Priority Gender Equality Action Plan for 2014-2021”.
Areas of Focus
UNESCO primarily addresses the following types of violence against women: inter-personal violence in and out of schools; trafficking in women; women in conflict and post-conflict situations (including the use of rape as a weapon of war). Activities cover various fields of education; the natural sciences; the social and human sciences; culture; and communications and information.
UNESCO has a two-pronged approach to violence against women:
1) A behavioural approach. Through education and with the help of ICTs, UNESCO seeks to build commitment to peace and non-violence in the minds of men and women. This includes the promotion of gender-sensitive human rights education and non-violent conflict resolution approaches. UNESCO’s Human Rights Education programme seeks to bring about a profound reform of education in order to transform attitudes and behaviours that condone violence. It touches upon curriculum development, in-service and pre-service training, textbooks, methodology, classroom management, and the organization of the education system at all levels.
2)A structural approach. Notably through its Social and Human Sciences and Culture Sector programmes, UNESCO looks at the structural causes of violence against women and seeks to encourage holistic and culturally appropriate policy responses towards their elimination.
Searching for Best Practices to Counter Human Trafficking in Africa: A Focus on Women and Children, Thanh-Dam Truong and Maria Belen Angeles, UNESCO 2005
Research papers prepared on “Women in the Conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo”, (2004/2005)
The UNESCO, UN Women and UNFPA Joint Programme on Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education is, in Tanzania, supporting the reform of discriminatory legislations for adolescent girls and strengthening coordination mechanisms on violence against women and girls.
Drafting of the UN-EU Spotlights Initiative for Nigeria, which will focus on fighting violence against women and sexual and reproductive health and rights.
UNESCO continues to build capacity within the education sector to prevent and respond to school related gender-based violence (SRGBV). Orientation and training workshops on education sector responses to SRGBV, utilizing resources such as the UNESCO/UN Women Global Guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence (English, French), were conducted with education personnel and partners in 2017 in the African region (West and Central Africa and Eastern and Southern Africa), the Caribbean and the Russian Federation. Parallel capacity building to enhance classroom learning on respectful relationships and promote violence-free learning environments, using curriculum tools, was also carried out in the Asia Pacific and Eastern and Southern Africa regions.
Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM): GSIM intends to gauge gender-sensitivity in media operations and editorial content. It is addressed to the media in general (radio, TV and press), and Broadcasting organizations and media associations or unions, and allows them to effectively assess themselves. These evaluations can be done by applying UNESCO's Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM) and serve as a baseline against which policy can subsequently be created, modified or implemented. Their application can therefore open the road to positive change. For instance, representatives from 25 French-speaking national broadcasters from Africa participated from 21 to 24 October 2016 to a training on the application of UNESCO’s Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media. Through this event, the organization sought to strengthen media pluralism and the adoption of gender-sensitive policies in African broadcasting organizations.
Empowering Local Radio with ICTs: UNESCO’s “Empowering Local Radio with ICTs” project strengthens the capacity of local radio staff to help them broadcast quality, relevant and reliable programming. An important component of these workshops is gender-sensitive training, which helps reporters identify and remove harmful biases and stereotypes from their coverage. Sensitivity is essential when covering gender-specific matters to promote healthy and equitable portrayals of men and women in the media and society. This training additionally helps radio stations take stock of and confront gender issues in their community, such as violence against women. As an example from this period, UNESCO gender-sensitivity training of reporters from Radio Ijwi ry’Umukenyezi (Women’s Voice) in Burundi contributed to the creation of a dedicated gender cell in their station. This team investigates gender-related issues, monitors the station’s broadcasts and hosts awareness programs. They specifically advocate positive behaviour among men and women to promote intolerance for violence against women – an activity that has been very well-received in the community.
To address institutionalized violence faced by adolescent mothers in the education sector who face discrimination on the basis of early and unintended pregnancy, UNESCO supported several countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Uganda, Tanzania, Swaziland) at various stages in the review and development of national policies on prevention and management of learner pregnancy and reintegration of school aged mothers. Support included the conduct of assessments and data review, through drafting of policy content and via national stakeholder consultations. Further support for Early and Unintended Pregnancy policy advocacy and implementation based on existing sector policies was provided in Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Support for China’s elaboration of its Family Violence law (adopted in 2016)
Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM): UNESCO helps Member States to adopt, review or strengthen legal frameworks on media from a gender equality perspective, to ensure inter alia prohibition of incitement to hatred and any form of gender-based stereotypes and violence within the media. Equally important is that media regulators and public service media carry out yearly assessments of the implementation of gender equality policy in media, and that media regulators effectively use accountability mechanisms in cases of violation of gender equality in media. UNESCO may also help Member States adapt GSIM to become national indicators, and regularly monitor and evaluate gender equality at national level, based on those indicators. For instance, 25 national broadcasters across Francophone Africa now have gender plans as do 2 national media regulators.
To support education sector responses to early and unintended pregnancy (EUP) while supporting the continuing education of adolescent mothers, UNESCO in Eastern and Southern Africa has carried out a 10-country situation analysis on EUP (conducted 2017; published 2018), the findings and recommendations of which will inform follow up country level actions for policy, programmes and advocacy. UNESCO also participates in the Indicator Working Group for the thematic indicators of SDG4, which among other aspects, continues to identify and define indicators for country reporting against the SDG thematic indicator 4.a.2 – Safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments, ensuring that data is not only sex-disaggregated but also to ensure that reporting captures the gendered dimensions of violence in learning spaces.
Gender Studies Research Network in China: UNESCO launched a project to look at policies and programs through a gender lens, identifying how they impact women and men, and then proposing policy and programmatic recommendations to address the gaps and challenges. This Gender Studies Research Network which brings together policy and decision makers, researchers and academics, and NGO leaders aims to address issues of violence against women and girls in a wider perspective.
To enhance global coordination and advocacy around school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), UNESCO continues to co-chair the Global Partners Working Group on SRGBV with the UN Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI). There are now over 40 organizations represented in this group which convenes routine gatherings to exchange technical knowledge and resources and plan joint action including at global meetings, events and advocacy platforms, such as the 16 Days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence).
Knowledge and advocacy products produced include the policy paper, Let’s Decide How to Measure School Violence (2017), developed by UNGEI, UNESCO and the Global Education Monitoring Report Team.
The UNESCO, UN Women and UNFPA Joint Programme on Empowering Adolescent Girls and Young Women through Education in Tanzania supported the Ministry of Health Community Development, Elderly, Women and Children to establish Violence against women and children (VAWC) protection committee guidelines. This will support advocacy activities on girl child protection together with the Assessment of the Legal and Regulatory Framework on Girls’ Education led by UNESCO.
In Tanzania, with support from the UNESCO Malala Fund for Girls’ Right to Education, 2,500 girls were engaged in safe spaces/youth clubs in 40 secondary schools. Safe space members are encouraged to be role models that should be emulated by other students, and to be agents of their own transformation. 120 teachers and 620 students were trained on how to manage Safe Spaces using tools developed by UNESCO (Guidelines for Creating Safe Spaces, Safe Space Guideline for facilitators and Handbook and Resource book). To ensure ownership, for subsequent trainings, teachers are trained as trainers to impart to students and other teachers knowledge and skills. 82 teachers from the 20 project schools were also trained on gender responsive pedagogy, human rights education and anti-bullying as well as sexual and reproductive health education. 200 teachers from those schools trained in those concepts by their fellow teachers and 1,050 students were reached. This activity has resulted in the districts and teachers’ adoption of systems to create a bullying and discrimination free environment in their schools and improving teaching by taking into consideration the gender dimension.
School-related gender based violence in Samoa : In creating opportunities for youth for civic engagement, UNESCO supported youth-led actions by young students of the School of Media and Journalism, National University of Samoa to raise awareness of the public about school-related gender based violence (SRGBV) in 2017. The intervention included capacity building workshops for media students to understand the nature, causes and impacts of SRGBV and ethical reporting, who later led the production of a media series to address the issue of SRGBV. The activity allowed students to firstly understand the issue of violence in school and discuss the issue from their perspective and how it manifests in their learning context. Students later developed their own course of actions. Communication materials including posters, documentaries, radio broadcast and journal articles were produced by the team of students with technical assistance of UNESCO and their lecturers. In the Arab region, Beirut office organized a three days training workshop targeting young people to promote gender equality. The workshop shared good practices and lessons learnt from advocacy campaigns in preventing Gender Based Violence (GBV) and sought a way to build capacity of youth advocates/ campaigners in this area.
Gender-Sensitive Indicators for Media (GSIM): UNESCO continues to encourage media organisations to adopt self-regulatory measures and internal mechanism, and develop standards in media coverage on the basis of such resources. The Organisation will accompany and build their capacity to portray non-stereotyped images of both women and men, avoid sexist language, content and advertising, as well as overall content that may lead to hatred and gender-based violence. UNESCO will also encourage the media to provide information on complaints procedures concerning media content which the public may consider offensive or contrary to gender equality.
For example, a database online has been developed to ensure a wider representation of female experts in Arabic &French and one in South East Asia. The GSIMs once implemented into media organizations strengthen gender equality both in workplace operations and in content.
On 14 April 2016, representative of UNESCO participated in the Round table “Trafficking in Human Beings” with a presentation entitled “Gender Perspectives of Trafficking in Human Beings”. Although trafficking affects both men and women, women and men are affected in different ways with respect to the types of trafficking they are subjected to, the forms of abuse they suffer from and the consequences thereof, women being subject more often to violence and sexual abuse. The discussion urged for an integrated and multi-sectoral approach.
In October 2016, UNESCO participated in the first US symposium on “Technology and Women: Protection and Peril” organized at the Evelyn Jacobs Ortner Center on Family Violence, University of Pennsylvania. The Symposium discussed inter alia the connectivity across offender's behavior, effects on victims, criminal justice intervention and ethical issues related to technology and violence against women. UNESCO's contribution was entitled “Through the Magnifying Glass: Technology and Violence Against Women” and it addressed the issue how Internet, mobile phones and social media can magnify gender inequalities in many different ways and how we can take action to magnify the potential of technology to empower women.
On 3 October 2016, UNESCO organized a Round Table on “Education and Gender Equality: The Perfect Partners for Development - Reflections on child, early and forced marriage – effects on school drop-outs.” During the event, the 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report Gender Review was also launched. The Round Table was part of UNESCO’s celebration of the International Day of the Girl Child and aimed at reflecting on the fundamental link between gender equality and education, with a specific focus on the impact of child, early and forced marriage on education prospects for girls.
UN Women collaborated with UNESCO to develop a guidance toolkit on prevention of and response to violence against women and girls in the educational sector: “Global Guidance on School-related Gender-based violence” in December 2016 (http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0024/002466/246651E.pdf). UN Women continues its collaboration with UNESCO to develop similar toolkits to engage the media and sporting organizations in prevention of and response to VAW. These technical documents provide key information to governments, policy-makers, practitioners and civil society who wish to take concrete action against violence against women and girls. It introduces approaches, methodologies, tools and resources that have shown positive results.
On occasion of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women - 25 November 2016, UNESCO set up an Orange Zone at Headquarters and conducted a rich social media campaign on the effects of climate change in exacerbating violence against women and girls - a key theme for this year’s campaign on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. Throughout the day, badges, informative postcards, posters and UNESCO publications were made available to all staff and visitors. Four visually striking factographs were released, highlighting the links between climate change and violence against women. The campaign disseminated via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram reached over 758,000 people around the world. Broadcasting live from the Orange Zone via Facebook Live, the Director of the Division of Gender Equality discussed the significance of this Day as the UNESCO Globe was lit in orange. The Director also highlighted the importance of raising awareness on violence against women in the context of climate change, noting the myriad of ways in which climate change disproportionately affects women, whether via natural disasters or climate-induced displacement causing heightened sexual trafficking, or the search for water and firewood resulting in increased rapes. Over 1,300 people have watched the video.