ZIMBABWE joins the world in commemorating 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence.
The campaign, which is commemorated globally, runs from 25 November to 10 December.
This year, the campaign is running under the theme ‘Invest to Prevent Violence Against Women and Girls’.
This year’s commemorations come at a time when institutions of higher learning have realised that Education 5.0 is a powerful tool which can be used to end gender based violence (GBV).
GBV is a violation of human rights and a serious obstacle to gender equality.
It affects millions of people, especially women and girls, around the world and has negative impacts on their physical, mental, and social well-being.
Education 5.0 is a term that refers to the fifth generation of education, which is characterised by the integration of technology, innovation, creativity, and entrepreneurship into the learning process.
It can foster the development of critical thinking, problem-solving, and innovation skills that enable learners to identify and address the root causes and consequences of GBV, and to propose and implement solutions.
Research in eliminating GBV
The role of research by universities in eliminating GBV is very important and multifaceted.
Research can contribute to this goal by providing evidence-based knowledge on the prevalence, causes, consequences, and forms of GBV in different contexts and populations, as well as the best practices and interventions to prevent and respond to it.
Research can inform and influence policy-making and advocacy on GBV at local, national, and international levels, by highlighting the human rights and gender equality dimensions of the issue, and by proposing recommendations and solutions.
It is through research that the university community can raise awareness and sensitise the wider society on GBV by disseminating and communicating the research findings and messages through the media, events, and campaigns.
Victims or survivors of GBV can be empowered and supported by involving them in the research process, by listening to their voices and experiences, and by providing them with information and resources to access help and justice.
Research can challenge and change the culture and norms that enable and perpetuate GBV by adopting an intersectional and collaborative approach that recognizes the diversity and complexity of GBV, and by engaging with various stakeholders such as civil society, Government, and the media to foster dialogue and action on GBV.
Teaching and learning
Teaching and learning are powerful tools to end GBV in institutions of higher education as they highlight the causes, consequences, and forms of GBV, as well as how to prevent and respond to it in a respectful and supportive manner.
Institutions of higher learning can integrate gender equality and human rights principles into the curriculum and pedagogy of all subjects, and encourage critical thinking and dialogue on gender issues among learners.
They can also create a safe and inclusive learning environment that fosters positive relationships, mutual respect, and diversity. One that does not tolerate any form of GBV or discrimination, and at the same time empower learners to develop their self-esteem, expression and confidence.
This will help students make informed decisions and protect their rights and dignity.
These institutions can engage learners in participatory and creative activities that challenge gender stereotypes and norms, and that promote social change and action against GBV by collaborating with communities and other stakeholders to raise awareness and mobilise support for ending GBV.
Community engagement as a pillar of Education 5.0 can play a vital role in ending GBV by providing social support and networks to the victims/survivors of GBV by offering them material and emotional assistance, protection, and information.
A comprehensive policy framework on GBV that covers prevention, response, and support for the community members, and that involves their participation and consultation should be put in place.
Creating a safe and inclusive community environment that respects diversity and human rights, and that does not tolerate any form of GBV or discrimination is critical in fighing GBV.
Collaborating and partnering with other stakeholders such as civil society organizations, Government agencies, and the media to address GBV at local, national, and global level is also critical.
Industrialisation and Innovation
Industrialisation and innovation are two important tools in Education 5.0 which can help to end GBV.
Industrialisation can create more economic opportunities for women and girls, which will in turn reduce their vulnerability to GBV and increase their empowerment.
Innovation can provide new ways of addressing the root causes and consequences of GBV.
These new ways include changing social norms, strengthening legal frameworks, improving service delivery, and generating evidence.
Technology can be a powerful tool to facilitate GBV prevention and response, as well as to empower survivors and advocates.
For example, the World Bank Group and the Sexual Violence Research Initiative (SVRI) have awarded grants to nine research teams that are using technology to address GBV through mobile applications, online platforms, and digital storytelling.