On December 1st, as part of this year’s 16 days global campaign on ending violence against women and girls, the Foundation for Security and Development in Africa (FOSDA), with support from Oxfam, experts of gender transformative education in Ghana, organized a seminar on the theme: Gender Transformative Education (GTE), a tool for ending sexual and gender based violence (SGBV).
A key activity for the day, was an awareness march before the seminar, in which about 20 participants carried posters with messages about SGBV and GTE. The participants interacted with people on the streets, including hawkers, people in vehicles, and pedestrians, in order to raise awareness and sensitize them to the importance of ending sexual and gender-based violence.
Ms. Theodora Williams Anti, Executive Director of FOSDA, stated during the seminar that education is critical to ending SGBV and that incorporating GTE is an opportunity to correct harmful stereotypes and attitudes that promote inequality.
Speaking at the seminar, Mr. Kofi Asare, Executive Director of Eduwatch, described GTE as an education system that holistically addresses the diverse needs of individuals, especially girls to reach their full potential.
Mrs. Benedicta Seidu, former director of the Ghana Education Service’s (GES) girl’s education unit, stated that the scales must be balanced in the fight against gender-based violence, and she advised both males and females not to discriminate against one another. ‘The Ghana education service is rigorous in dealing with GBV cases’, said Mrs. Seidu. Adding that, the safe school policy implemented by GES seeks to protect students from all forms of violence including gender based violence (GBV). She also revealed that, the professional code of conduct for all GES officials and staff members included a GBV response portion.
While these measures have encouraged some students to report abuses, many remain unable to do so due to cultural beliefs and fear of stigma.
Ms Williams-Anti and Mrs Seidu reaffirmed the importance of incorporating gender pedagogy into capacity building programs and targeting teachers, students, traditional rulers, and parents in sensitization programs to curb this.
According to Mr. Kofi Asare, gender parity at completion and transition from basic school is eroding to the disadvantage of girls. This is evidenced by recent studies at Eduwatch that, 40 percent of basic school dropouts are girls. He expanded further that with GTE, teaching approaches, mannerisms, educational materials in both the formal and informal sectors will be redesigned to facilitate girls’ education.
Commenting on GTE in women’s rights, Ms. Lois Addo, women’s right activist with WiLDAF believes not only is it a game changer, but an opportunity to take on a qualitative approach to education that is extremely lacking in Ghana. “With transformative education, girls will no longer be raised to play second fiddle to boys”, she said. Adding that, women’s participation in decision making at all levels will increase.
Although speakers agreed that Gender Transformative Education is critical to ending SGBV, it was noted that in order to reap the benefits, a proactive policy on transformative education and effective implementation by stakeholders are required. All youth Policy influencers were called to action to continuously engage the government and create awareness on GTE till the outcomes of GTE were made manifest.
Civil society organisations and the government were also urged to work together to end gender-based violence through an effective education system.