SAFER: Challenging and transforming existing gender stereotypes in schools

Tuesday 6 March 2018

Home / Rights and Justice / SAFER: Challenging and transforming existing gender stereotypes in schools

Gender-based violence (GBV) is one of the most pervasive human rights violations of our time and a form of discrimination that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual, psychological or economic harm or suffering.

In the EU, estimates suggest that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical or sexual violence, or both, since the age of 15 (EC 2016). As GBV, unfortunately, is still common throughout Europe, it is important to implement more actions that can change attitudes and behaviours leading to GBV.

Education, especially from an early age, plays a great role in the prevention of gender-based violence. It provides space to talk about gender equality, healthy relationships, and values such as respect. It is, firstly, at school when we are little that we become aware of socially constructed gender stereotypes and can start challenging those.

Considering the harm gender-based stereotypes bring and the prevalence of GBV in Europe, the SAFER project was designed to prevent, encourage reporting and combat gender-based violence (GBV) fostering a systematic approach based on positive psychology and character education of children.

The project aims at raising awareness of primary school teachers, students, parents and relevant stakeholders regarding GBV, its roots and its implications. We are going to supply teachers with relevant classroom materials that will help them to discuss about GBV in their classroom, challenge existing gender stereotypes and ultimately prevent GBV.

On 1-2 March 2018, we took part in the SAFER Kick-off meeting in Nicosia, Cyprus, hosted by the coordinator Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family (SPAVO).

During the meeting we discussed all activities that will implement during the upcoming 2 years of the project:

  • We are starting with the development of the comparative research on the gender-based violence attitudes, experience and reactions of teachers and children in all partner countries. The research will be carried out through a desk-based-research approach and an empirical approach via focus groups and interviews with teachers, students, parents and policy makers.
  • Based on the research findings, in order to respond to the identified needs, we will develop educational resources and training materials for teachers on socially-constructed gender roles.
  • We will train 100 primary school teachers in each partner country on identifying and preventing GBV in order to change their students’ existing attitudes and their own..
  • Finally, we will implement awareness-raising activities and, through various events, festivals, creation and promotion of animation movie for children on gender equality and even a mobile game application for children, we will inform the public about what they can do in order to prevent and combat GBV.

Each partner is bringing extensive knowledge and know-how in research, needs analysis, development of educational materials, positive psychology, prevention of GBV, if to mention just few areas of expertise.

Everything starts from education and if we want to live in a society free from prejudice that is able to understand and prevent gender-based violence acts, we need to construct just and positive learning environments.

SAFER – Systematic Approaches for Equality of gendeR is co-funded by the Rights, Equality and Citizenship Programme of the European Commission.

The project partnership holds together 8 organisations:

  • Association for the Prevention and Handling of Violence in the Family – SPAVO (Cyprus);
  • Vilnius University(Lithuania);

If you are a teacher or you work with children aged 8-12 years old and would like to be involved in the activities of the project, or if you would like to receive more information about the project, you can contact Cloé Saint-Nom,