“A safe city is one that promotes the elimination of gender-based violence, while at the same time promoting equal opportunities for men and women in all the spheres of social, economic, cultural and political life (access to employment, education, political participation, resources and leisure, etc.).”
There are three ways in which the theme of education has emerged as central to the discussion on women’s safety. The first and more obvious one relates to ensuring the safety of women and girls within and around educational institutions, including schools, colleges and university campuses. Several incidents of sexual harassment of women and girls have been reported from outside educational institutions, whether schools, colleges or university campuses, and even inside schools (e.g. during shift changes).
Second, the education system, both formal and non-formal, needs to recognise and respond to growing concerns about the safety of women and girls in public spaces. These issues must be incorporated in both what we teach, and how we teach, from an early age, and all the way through to university. All students need to be made aware that sexual harassment is not okay, that all forms of sexual harassment, including verbal and visual, are in fact criminal offences. Male students need to be educated on themes of gender equality, while female students also need to understand their rights, including their right to respond to, and report, incidences of sexual harassment.
Finally, even in non-school environments, Jagori survey
results have shown that school and college students are vulnerable to all kinds of sexual harassment. Over 85% of the respondents in the age group of 16-18 (school students) reported being verbally harassed and over 70% reported being visually harassed. Similar figures are reported for college/university students as well (87% and 75% respectively; in addition over 50% reported being stalked). 16-18 years is also the age group where the proportion of those who confronted the perpetrator was the among the lowest (less than 60%, as compared to an average of 68% for all age/professional groups), which probably points towards a lower degree of confidence in girls of this age. How to inculcate a sense of dignity and confidence in this age group of girls and adolescent women is the third important dimension under the theme of education.
In Nov. 2003 and in March 2004, Directorate of Education issued a circular to all government schools to improve the safety of girl students within school premises. Between 2005 and 2009; The Govt. of Delhi and SCERT also developed the “YUVA Schools Life Skills Program”. This program aims at developing ‘Life Skills’ that will address the important and emerging issues that have an impact on the society and nation and help students building their thinking, social and negotiating skills, learning capacities, personality and effective relationships.
Brainstorming sessions with parents, teachers and students can help in building up reforms to make environment safer within and around the school. Improved lightning around the institution and on connecting streets, appointment and accessibility of counsellors, laying down strict guidelines relating to treatment of girl students are the steps to be taken care of.
Jagori partners with Pravah on Safe School Initiative.
More information coming up.