Empowering students against gender-based violence
To raise awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) and its gender-specific effects, EnDev Benin organised a training session for students at an agricultural technical school. As a result, one girl found the courage to report a harassing teacher.
Marie* is a student at a technical agricultural school in Benin. She is studying agriculture with the hope of starting her own farm in the future as a good source of income. Marie has been a survivor of gender-based violence.
Gender-based violence has been recognised for decades as a phenomenon that reflects the historically unequal power relations between men and women, resulting in domination and discrimination, often by men against women. This violence particularly hinders the advancement of women and violates their fundamental freedoms.
In an important effort to address this pervasive issue, EnDev Benin organised a two-day training workshop for 150 students, with a special focus on empowering 70 girls. Through interactive presentations, the two speakers, Ismene Ahamide, a renowned energy expert in Benin, and Dr Antonella Crisante, Director of the NGO CALVIF, provided the students with knowledge and skills to prevent and respond to such incidents.
Through this awareness-raising activity, EnDev Benin enabled students, especially girls, to understand the forms, causes and consequences of gender-based violence and provided information on relevant laws and institutions to which they can turn in case of such violence. In addition, the girls were particularly motivated and coached to pursue technical careers in the energy sector in order to address the lack of qualified women to fill technical positions in the sector.
As a result, two weeks after the workshop, Marie found the courage to report her teacher, who had been harassing her. Consequently, he was arrested. “Through the training, I finally got to know the institutions that could help and protect me, and I had confidence to act. I am still grateful for the gender-based violence training we received from EnDev Benin. I can now continue my education with more confidence,” says Marie. She is now being looked after by the “Cellule d’écoute”. It is an institution that helps girls with advice and refers them to the case-specific institutions.
The two-day training workshop at the Benin Agricultural College proved to be a gender-transformative experience for the students who attended. The workshop not only equipped them with knowledge and skills, but also instilled in them a sense of responsibility to address gender-based violence in their community. The girls expressed a newfound confidence in claiming their rights and challenging discriminatory practices. The impact of this workshop is not limited to the individuals involved but extends to their communities and the wider fight against gender-based violence.
*The name “Marie” is used in this article to protect the identity of the student.