Understanding Culture
Protecting Human Rights
A. Obaid

UNFPA Executive Director
Gender Equity Human Rights

Sierra Leone

Laying the groundwork

Starting off right
Bulding in sustainability
Women's options
Multisectoral alliances
Change from within
Youth & Education
Caring for the individual
Gaining support through advocacy
The Projects

Reach young people through education
The goal of any programme addressing violence against women is moving from a curative to a preventive approach. This entails a profound shift in the beliefs, stereotypes and attitudes related to the social value of men and women and in the power dynamics between themwithin families, communities and society. In promoting such cultural and social shifts, experience shows that working with children and adolescents is often most effective. Ideally this should begin in the early years, with education rooted in a gender-and rights-based approach. In Romania, numerous programmes, including workshops in high schools, encourage such changes. Games, psychodramas and other activities helped young people recognize that domestic violence is not a normal aspect of healthy family life, and to come to terms with it in their own lives. Many high schoolers subsequently showed up at project-run crisis centres. Prevention programmes can begin as early as the first grade, and encompass domestic and other forms of violence, including discrimination. Enrolling girls in school is also a way of protecting them from violence, assuming that a safe environment has been created. In Kenya, boarding schools are providing sanctuary to girls seeking to escape female genital mutilation/cutting. In Ghana, changing the mindset of girls and young women who have spent a good part of their lives in ritual slavery is proving to be a challenge. Nevertheless, educating young children, especially girls, is the most effective way of eventually ending the trokosi system.


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