PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Elementary and Secondary Education Department (ESED) in collaboration with non-government organisations on Thursday launched a project to mitigate gender-based violence (GBV) and violence against children in 1,000 schools in 13 districts of the province.

Gender Mainstreaming and GBV for Human Capital Investment Project (KP-HCIP) was launched with the assistance of Rozan and Strengthening Participatory Organisation at a seminar, according to a statement issued here.

On the occasion, Shazia Ata, deputy secretary ESED, said the objective of the project was to create a safe learning environment for children. “The aim of the project is to reach 1,000 schools, conducting comprehensive training sessions with schoolteachers, representatives of parent-teacher councils, village network forums and village education committees.

“These sessions will focus on addressing issues of gender-based violence, violence against children, sexual harassment and sexual exploitation and abuse with sensitivity and efficiency. The training will empower 1,000 focal persons to effectively address these issues, ensuring the implementation of the code of conduct and grievance and referral mechanics,” she explained.

Shazia Ata said additionally, interactive sessions with children from each of these schools would also be conducted. “In total 10,000 to 15,000 children and school staff, including teachers, administrators, and community representatives from each school, will gain awareness of these policies and actively contribute to their implementation.”

Fouzia Yasmin, deputy director Rozan, said the NGO was a non-profit organisation focused on mental and emotional health, and committed to working for a violence-free society while employing strategies like awareness raising, research, counseling, advocacy, training and capacity building.

Nilofar Bakhtiar, chairperson National Commission on Status of Women, said every third women faced violence and a child was abused every two hours in Pakistan. She said this was also a fact that reported cases were just a tip of the ice berg. “The project launched today is a direct response to these challenges.”

She said collaboration between the governments, education department, CSOs the World Bank signalled a commitment to a multi-faceted approach to not only address gender disparities and GBV, but also to integrate solutions within educational institutions, aiming to mitigate issues of violence against children and gender mainstreaming in schools,” she said.

Published in Dawn, December 29th, 2023

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