According to the World Health Organization, one in three women will experience violence in her lifetime.
Violence is most often perpetrated by an intimate partner—a husband or boyfriend. Violence impacts a woman’s physical and mental health, her ability to go to school, work, move about freely, control her reproductive and sexual life, and maintain other relationships and friendships. Violence keeps women and girls in subordinate and dependent positions under the control of men.
How can we end this cycle of violence? Research shows that counselling of adult perpetrators has little impact on their behavior. What works? Educating boys and girls in primary and secondary schools about gender norms and power in sexual relationships. Lessons include teaching young boys that harassing girls is not acceptable and that they should do their fair share of household chores. It teaches young girls that they can say “no” to unwanted advances, and can become political or business leaders if they want.
You can consult UNESCO’s technical guidance on comprehensive sexuality education for kids aged 5-18, inlcuding gender norms and power in sexual relationships, here.
This guidance is used in primary and secondary schools around the world to challenge the stereotypes that keep boys and girls trapped in roles that perpetuate violence and harassment.
You can consult research about sexual violence against women here.
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Changing patriarchal gender norms, and teaching children about equality and consent are critical to ending violence against women and girls.