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GDI News

Winter 2003 Issue # 3
Educators and Practitioners Engage in South-North Dialogue on Gender Violence

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"The Role of Education in Preventing Gender-based Violence" was the theme of an inter-American forum in February 2002, co-sponsored by the Gender and Diversities Institute and the Center for Research in Women's Studies at the University of Costa Rica. With 26 practitioners and researchers from 10 countries, the forum provided a unique and stimulating space in which to begin the process of collectively constructing a knowledge base in this region that builds upon the innovative work happening in diverse sites.

For example, Norma Quixtán from the Belejeb Batz Women's Center in Guatemala underscored the importance in her approach of integrating the stories of the women she works with: "Education that incorporates these personal stories and social histories allows attitudes to be transformed, and encourages a new social environment that constitutes one approach to the prevention of all types of violence. It is one tool for planting and constructing a society with gender equity and peace." A U.S. representative, Harilyn Rousso, discussed the issue of sexual harassment and other gendered violence against girls and with disabilities. "What little we know about sexual harassment and students with disabilities suggests that they may be at particularly high risk, and girls may face some unique issues."

Work in Nicaragua with survivors of Hurricane Mitch was described by participant Rosa María Sanchez. Their work was initially focused on working with children, but project staff found that the teachers, who were female, needed to have training and support. "In the process of carrying out this work, it became apparent to participants that it wasn't 'normal' to accept the situations of violence in which they lived, and that the sociocultural patterns in towns were structured to favor a use of violence to resolve conflicts.

More information about the forum can be found at the GDI Web site. English and Spanish versions of forum papers and the bilingual proceedings are available on the web or in print versions from the institute.


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