Sunday, 26 October 2014

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The importance of Malala Day to education for girls in the UK

articlepictureParticipants of the Youth Assembly for Universal Primary Education/UN Photo

 

In the global struggle for the right to education for girls, a recent article by Carlene Firmin, head of the MsUnderstood Partnership, addressed the fact that almost one in three 16- to 18-year-old girls in the UK have experienced harassment at school.

The issue of access to education for girls is universal and was highlighted earlier this month when Malala Yousafzai spoke at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York. Malala, the Pakistani schoolgirl and education rights campaigner, was shot by the Taliban for attending classes.

Girls and young women in the UK also face risks which are often overlooked during global debates. A poll by YouGov in 2010 found that sexual bullying and harassment were routine in UK schools. One in three 16-to 18-year-old girls stated that they had experienced unwanted sexual touching or groping at school. The same poll also revealed that nearly three-quarters (71%) of all 16-18-year-olds say they hear sexual name-calling with terms such as “slut” or “slag” used towards girls at schools on a daily basis or a few times a week.

In 2012, the End Violence Against Women coalition in the UK launched the Schools Safe 4 Girls campaign which aims to “empower parents, students and local women’s groups to encourage their local schools to take action to prevent all forms of violence against women and girls, including through Sex and Relationships Education”.

“The barriers to girls accessing education exist across the globe. Whether the risks they face are posed by their societies, neighbourhoods, peer groups or families, all girls are entitled to protection”, according to Ms Firmin.