The Department for Education (DfE) has unveiled fresh guidelines for sex and health education across England, with female genital mutilation, grooming, forced marriage and domestic abuse all set to be included as part of the new curriculum.
Commenting, Dr Amiera Sawas, policy specialist at ActionAid UK said: "We welcome these developments in the UK education system. Education is key to creating sustainable change, and students themselves agree. In a recent ActionAid poll about negative and offensive attitudes towards women and girls, 60 percent of young people aged 14-21 in the UK, Kenya, Brazil and India flagged educating boys in schools on how to treat girls as the way forward and 58 per cent also backed educating girls on how to report harassment.
“It is important however that any curriculum that gets developed is grounded in the research being done by grassroots stakeholders who recognise that violence against women and girls is caused by deep rooted beliefs that the female body is inferior and exists for others to exploit and control, and say progress will only be made through a multi-faceted approach which includes public discussions within communities that challenge these norms. We welcome that steps will be taken to ensure that young people are made aware of existing support networks around FGM and other harmful gendered practises.
ActionAid supports local activists by helping to set up girls’ clubs that offer a safe space for girls to share experiences and campaigning for schools to listen to what they say and ensure they don’t drop out. We want girls globally to be empowered to say My Body Is Mine and fulfil their potential, and for those around them to support them through this.
“Another important step would be to ensure girls’ specific needs around access to sanitary towels are met so they are more confident going to school while on their period. This is a global problem that needs urgent attention.”
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Notes to editors
1. ActionAid is an international charity that works with women and girls living in poverty. Our dedicated local staff are helping end violence against women and girls and changing lives, for good. We won’t stop until women and girls are out of danger, out of poverty and on track to create the future they want.