WASHINGTON - May 4 - ActionAid International is convening a regional conference on Violence Against Girls in Schools – Towards Sustainable Strategies in Harare, Zimbabwe from the 8–10 May 2006 to address this critical issue of violence against young women.
Girls constitute nearly two-thirds of the 130 million children out of school in the developing world, according to the United Nations. Violence against girls results in low enrolment of girls in schools, teenage pregnancies, early marriage and increasing rates of HIV/AIDS.
The aim of the conference is to inform and challenge policy makers, donors and other international non-governmental organisations to take stronger action on violence against girls in schools, much of which goes unreported.
“Girls encounter violence in school, near school and on the journey to and from school. ActionAid's research revealed cases of teachers and sometimes fellow students, subject girls to sexual abuse and other forms of violence,” says Everjoice Win, ActionAid’s head of women rights.
“These are significant factors that impede girl’s access to education and prevents the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.”
The conference will bring together representatives from the Ministry of Education Teachers’ Union, Civil Society Education Coalitions, African women educationists affiliated to the Forum for African Women & Education, (FAWE) and women’s rights activists. Participants will come from the nine Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) countries.
It is expected that the conference will come up with a draft model national policy to prevent violence against girls and demand that governments should set up reporting mechanisms, punish perpetrators and support survivors.
Notes to editors
ActionAid International is an anti-poverty agency working in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Americas.
ActionAid International conducted research in 2004 on violence against girls in schools in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Vietnam. It indicated that much violence against girls goes unreported and the scale of the problem has been vastly underestimated.
A copy of the report can be found at http://www.actionaid.org/wps/content/
The Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries include: Namibia, South Africa, Mozambique, Lesotho, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Angola and Malawi