Geno Jilo is an English teacher and coordinator of the girls’ club in Batu Number 2 Primary School – one of the beneficiary primary schools of Association for Women’s Sanctuary and Development (ASWAD) community capacity-building programs in Ziway. Geno takes part in the parent-teacher committee consultative meetings organized by AWSAD to sensitize and educate members of the school community about violence against girls.
Geno indeed supports her students. Amane, a member of the girls’ club and a grade 8 student tells a story. “There was a girl in our school whose brother wanted to give her hand in marriage,” Amane shares, “very reluctantly, she came and told us about what was about to happen to her. We convinced her to tell the teacher who leads our girls club [Geno] about it. When the teacher was informed, she directly went to speak to the girl’s family. She told them that they had to help the girl continue her education. She told them that if they refuse to stop plans to marry off the child, she will inform the authorities.”
Out of the 2,053 students enrolled in Batu Number 2 Primary School, 1,195 are girls and AWSAD also works with the students of the school. Life-skills training on gender, gender-based violence, peer pressure and assertiveness skills are given to 13-15 year-olds. “There is a lot of awareness created in the school about violence against girls,” says Beriso Negeso, the school director. “There was a student who was raped and three months pregnant and was so distressed she wanted to kill herself. Another girl student informed us about her and we investigated the issue. We reported to police and also referred the girl to AWSAD.”
When girls miss school, teachers and the school director pay special attention and speak to parents about issues such as child marriage. A separate girls’ toilet has been built and the school has turned into an environment where girls feel safe and supported. AWSAD’s intervention has helped create a gender-sensitive, women and girl-friendly community where violence against women and girls is not tolerated.
“Now I know how to counsel and support my girl students when they come to me with issues. I have gained a lot from these consultative trainings,” Geno says.
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