The GEAR against IPV approach (Gender Equality Awareness Raising against Intimate Partner Violence) is a coordinated action of primary and secondary prevention of Intimate Partner Violence in adolescents’ relationships through interventions in the school or in other settings, that are guided by specially designed educational material and are aimed at secondary school students’ awareness raising and empowerment by specially trained teachers.
The main aim is to promote the development of healthy and equal relationships between the sexes and the development of zero tolerance towards violence by raising teens’ awareness on:
- the characteristics of healthy and unhealthy relationships
- the influence that gender stereotypical attitudes and socially imposed gender roles have on their relationships
- how power inequality between the sexes is related to psychological, physical and/or sexual abuse against women/girls and
- how adolescents can contribute to the prevention of all forms of gender-based violence.
Given the fact that almost all children and adolescents attend school, the educational system, at all levels, is the ideal setting for such an effort, where properly trained teachers can play a key role in the implementation of such interventions targeting the general population. The need for implementing in schools interventions related to gender stereotypes and equality, as a means of primary prevention of gender-based violence it is, therefore, imperative.
The GEAR against IPV approach is a proposal for systematic intervention in the school (or other) setting, where girls and boys are invited, through a series of experiential activities, to assess but also challenge their culturally “inherited” gender stereotypes and to approach differences between sexes as individual differences rather than as characteristics of superiority of one sex over the other.
- students (12+ years old) of secondary education
- adolescents but also young people belonging to high-risk groups (e.g. have been exposed to intimate partner violence between their parents or experienced abuse and/or neglect during childhood)
- secondary school teachers and other professionals working in the school setting (e.g. psychologists, social workers)
- professionals and organizations that are active in the fields of health promotion and education, gender equality and prevention of gender-based violence, as well as to professionals who are providing services to adolescents belonging to high-risk groups
- decision-making centers, such as departments of the Ministry of Education, and policy makers interested in promoting the integration of the GEAR against IPV intervention in secondary education’s curricula.
Main Activities of the GEAR against IPV Approach
- theoretical and experiential training of teachers on issues related to gender stereotypical attitudes, gender equality and gender-based violence in adolescents’ relationships
- capacity building and skills development for the implementation and evaluation of the adolescents’ awareness raising workshops in school or other settings
- development of skills related to identifying, handling and appropriate referring of cases of abuse of children and teens they may face
Therefore, the ultimate goal of the workshops is young people less tolerant towards IPV, more knowledgeable of the characteristics and consequences of gender-based violence and equipped with “protection skills” against intimate partner violence and other forms of gender-based violence, for both themselves and the people they know.
The long-term objective of the workshops is adolescents’ relationships to be healthy and based on equality and mutual respect as, in such a relationship, the phenomenon of gender-based violence is impossible to occur.
The GEAR against IPV Approach...
- uses exclusively experiential activities through which, adolescents are not taught, but guided to explore their personal gender stereotypical attitudes and their impact to their own lives, to “discover” and to exercise life skills that will help them to develop healthy relationships, free from any form of violence
- introduces gender equality in education as a violence prevention strategy, motivates and qualifies teachers with the necessary skills and the “know how” in order to implement such primary prevention interventions
- when integrated into the school curriculum, it enhances a) the preventive character of the intervention, as it conveys the message that schools and teachers do care about and take action towards gender equality and elimination of violence from adolescents’ relationships, and b) the sustainability of such interventions, as teachers comprise a permanent “task force” at schools and, therefore, they can implement such interventions on a permanent basis
- allows access to the general population of children/adolescents, even in remote areas
- has been implemented and evaluated in 7 countries and appears to be effective in increasing adolescents’ knowledge and modifying their tolerant attitudes towards gender-based violence
- consists a precise fulfillment of Article 14 of the Council of Europe (2011) Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence. In this article, that concerns education, it is clearly stated that such type of "teaching material on issues such as equality between women and men, non-stereotyped gender roles, mutual respect, non-violent conflict resolution in interpersonal relationships, gender-based violence against women and the right to personal integrity, adapted to the evolving capacity of learners" should be included not only "in formal curricula and at all levels of education", but also "in informal educational facilities, as well as in sports, cultural and leisure facilities and the media".