Education is a must in fight for GBV prevention

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser. Picture: Supplied

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser. Picture: Supplied

Published Jun 30, 2024



Gender-based violence (GBV), a global pandemic, is a torment for humanity that is happening around us. It is almost an unending torment on human dignity that weakens a person’s sense of self-worth. It affects not only their physical health but also their mental health, causing them to self-harm, slip into depression or attempt suicide.

Current dialogues are centred on raising awareness of the magnitude and impact of GBV. Most essentially, a pressing need to strengthen and support the response across sectors due to its impact on many aspects of individual lives.

GBV is a term commonly used to describe violence that happens when normative role expectations and power imbalances between genders are fulfilled in a society.

Even though it is just one piece of the puzzle, the return of children and adolescents to classrooms and education is a step towards ending this human rights violation.

The purpose of this article is to explore the role education can play in preventing GBV, provide fulfilment to our pursuits and help us overcome it.

Today, GBV remains an obstacle to achieving each person’s true potential and their right to self-development. Life challenges are unpredictable, causing our learning paths to be neither easy nor straight.

Each person faces trials and may be guided by an alternative route with a few roadblocks. Those who stumble back on a learning path may find themselves in a better, unplanned destination. The individuals view failure as a way to sharpen their focus and learn.

Education and educational institutions can be instrumental in the gradual overcoming of GBV as it is preventable – critical information is presented to us during different stages of learning.

Gender inequalities and GBV prevention can be addressed and prevented through schools that offer normative change, including primary to higher educational institutions, vocational training and non-formal education. Education has, historically, been a potent instrument for transforming individuals and societies.

Through school-based programmes, GBV awareness is raised and victims’ skills are honed to achieve goals that reflect their future persona that has a strong self-worth. A 21st-century education has the capacity to provide pupils with the skills they require to succeed. Institutions that support their learners in enhancing their courage to practice ethical skills for a meaningful life, nurture thinkers who question life’s conundrums and solve problems for a progressive future.

With the availability of extensive information, learners can make sense of it, share it and use it in smart ways. As the world becomes more complicated, we must be more innovative to confront its challenges.

Success in today’s technological world requires skills like creativity and imagination. To overcome creative blocks and explore new realms of innovation, develop the ability to think outside the box and bring imaginative ideas to life.

Changes in life are inevitable and, therefore, what was important yesterday may not be important tomorrow – education enables individuals to adjust to changes and create new ideas.

In light of this, education is capable of saving and improving the lives of women and girls. Conversely, men who are educated are less inclined to engage in violence.

Early childhood torment, particularly for boys can have a profound impact and cause severe trauma. Boys who witness various forms of abuse develop the impression that the behaviour is justifiable or normal, which negatively affects their self-development.

Statistics indicate that abused boys become abusers themselves as they age, which can jeopardise their chances of having a normal life or relationships as adults.

Women are pushed to the margins of society by GBV, causing them to be helpless – regardless of their socio-economic background, race or culture.

Domestic violence or abuse refers to patterns of behaviour that a person uses to gain power and control over another person mainly in family or intimate relationships. Behaviours stem from physical, sexual or psychological abuse and other forms of toxic behaviour.

GBV and inequality are often justified by culture which involves traditional practices about how women should be treated. Men are socialised to remain silent and conform to cultural norms which are toxic on multiple levels.

Our goal is to challenge the spaces of power and gender roles that are defined by culture. After all, some practices and explanations do have an expiration date or cultural DNA, just as individual DNA changes with each generation.

Men now understand the urgency and refuse to react modestly to an abnormal situation. Men possess the capacity to promote a culture of non-violence that transcends personal boundaries and social norms.

To administer the uncertainties, society’s capacity to develop informed, empowered, ethical and adaptive citizens hinges on its capacity to cultivate a strong sense of community.

While GBV practices continue, some may conform to societal norms but it is those who take the initiative to challenge them that stand out.

Anolene Thangavelu Pillay is a psychology adviser.

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