School-related gender-based violence: achieving change with and for youth


While education has the power to positively transform lives, the violence that affects 246 million children in and around schools each year is having the opposite effect – risking children’s ability to learn, well-being and futures. And prevalent social norms and values mean that girls and boys experience violence in different ways, with different drivers and consequences. 

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) includes acts or threats of sexual, physical, or psychological violence occurring in and around school, perpetrated as a result of gender norms and stereotypes, and enforced by unequal power dynamics.

Girls in particular are disproportionately affected by SRGBV, both by students and adults – in school, on the way to school, and online. Their experiences need to be heard and their calls to action acted upon to drive change. 

A new brief ‘School-related gender-based violence: achieving systemic, sustainable change - with youth and for youth’ has been developed by youth and survivor activists from Transform Education’s Ending SRGBV Collective, the Global Partnership for Education’s Youth Leaders Group and the SAGE Advisory Board to the Brave Movement, supported by the Safe to Learn Global Advocacy Taskforce, to examine ways to end the violence.

This brief argues that despite the known scale and wide-reaching impacts of SRGBV, as well as the many examples of what works to end it, not enough is being done at the education policy level to end violence in schools, and to recognise and address the gendered drivers and dimensions of violence.

Gender-based violence in schools, be it sexual, physical or psychological, can be perpetrated by peers, educators and other school staff, sometimes exploiting children for grades or other favours. Global data shows that one in four young women have experienced violence by the time they are 24 years old.

LGBTQI+ students, girls with disabilities and those from other marginalised and discriminated groups, such as religious minorities and indigenous communities are also affected more often. And during conflicts and humanitarian crises, gender-based violence risks are exacerbated, increasing the challenges already faced by affected communities. 

Gender-based violence in and around schools violates children’s and young people’s rights and is a significant barrier for them to access safe, inclusive, quality education. SRGBV harms children and young people’s self-esteem, well-being and ability to learn, undermining hard-fought efforts to transform education for all. 

The brief lays out examples of where and how solutions are driving progress as well as the legal conventions and actions that governments must adopt to make schools safe and inclusive. 

With input from the young people who have developed the brief, the paper sets out clear and specific recommendations for governments to urgently prioritise and implement so that all schools are safe places for all students whatever their gender identity, gender expression and/or sexual orientation.