Reducing School-Related GBV through Sport and Arts in Wakiso and Soroti

A Peacemaking Project by Lindsay O.

What is the injustice we are solving?

Despite Uganda having a multitude of policies, plans and initiatives to advance gender equality and improve the quality of education – including the National Policy on the Elimination of Gender-Based Violence and the National Strategy for Girls’ Education – school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) remains pervasive across the country and a major obstacle to Uganda meeting its goal to “make education safe for all.” A 2013 study by UNICEF found that 81% of students surveyed experienced violence at school, including sexual, physical and psychological abuse. Sixty-eight percent reported abuse by teachers, and 30.4% by fellow students. Girls are especially vulnerable to SRGBV, due to widely-accepted attitudes and practices that discriminate against and marginalize women and girls. In classrooms, girls are often less academically challenged than their male counterparts, affecting their current and future performance and self-confidence, and girls are more likely to experience sexual violence, which accounts for “the highest percentage of girls who drop out of school.” SRGBV affects boys, too, with male children often experiencing higher rates of bullying and physical punishment like caning. Alarmingly, SRGBV in Uganda is “higher and increasing at a faster rate” compared to schools in neighboring countries in East Africa. From 2001 to 2007 sexual harassment between students in Uganda rose from 41% to 58%. Abusive language between students increased from 76% to 90%. There is urgent need to “invest in Uganda’s next generation” – especially its girls – through school-led actions to reduce and ultimately prevent SRGBV.