Education and Empowerment of Girls against Gender-based Violence
Violence may be defined generally as the mechanism by which unequal power relations are maintained through the infliction of physical or emotional pain on one person by another. However, gender violence takes on a more specific nature that is mainly sexual and which hinges on patriarchal cultures whereby men seek to control, not just the social institutions but also, women’s bodies as objects of male sexual gratification. Schools as agents of socialisations may perpetuate such cultures. Using research findings from selected settings of the Eastern and Southern Africa Region (ESAR), the author demonstrates how gender violence among young people (female and male) in African formal educational contexts interacts with schooling to produce disempowering experiences for girls compared with their male schoolmates. The thrust of the argument is that, by acting out their gendered and sexual identities in explicitly sensitive, reflexive and gender friendly ways, female and male teachers have the potential to create for their students, violence-free environments in which girls enjoy schooling on equal terms with their male peers. Because the culture of non-violence is more difficult and hence, requires more attention and more care than that of violence, it takes a great deal longer for the delicious and life-enhancing fruits of non-violence to grow and ripen than it does for the bitter deadly fruits of violence.