Empowering schoolgirls against gender-based violence in Benin

Teaser: To raise awareness of gender-based violence (GBV) and its gender-specific effects, EnDev organised a training session for students at an agricultural technical school in Benin. As a result, one girl found the courage to report a harassing teacher.

Marie is a 18-year-old 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. She has been a victim of Gender Based Violence (GBV) at the hands of her teacher for about six months.

Gender-based violence (GBV) 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, and to commemorate International Women’s Day 2023, 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, Mrs 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 GBV, and provided information on relevant laws and institutions to which they can turn in case of GBV. 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 for a sexual relationship for about six months.

“He used to tell me that I wouldn’t succeed in his subjects if I didn’t agree to have a sexual relationship with him. But through the training, I finally got to know the institutions that could help and protect me from him and I had confidence to act. I am still grateful for the GBV training we received from EnDev Benin. I can now continue my education with more confidence,” says Marie

The two-day training workshop at the Benin Agricultural College proved to be a gender transformative experience for the 150 students, especially the 70 girls who attended. The workshop not only equipped them with knowledge and skills, but also instilled in them a sense of responsibility to address GBV 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.

EnDev aims to have a gender transformative impact, focusing on empowering women and young people in rural communities on gender issues.

In addition, Marie is now in good hands as she is being looked after by the “Cellule d’écoute”, an institution based in her school. This institution helps girls with advice and refers them to the right institutions (such as the Centre de Promotion Sociale (CPS) and other NGOs) according to the nature of their cases.

The pronoun “Marie” is used in this article to protect the identity of the girl who denounced her harassing teacher

You can also find the article here on the endev website.

Contact Details

Name: Dr Shéitan SOSSOU
Email: sheitan.sossou@giz.de
Posted in Gender Week Blog