PCV 2 April 2010

Brief Project Description:
In early 2009, the PCV was approached by the local representative of the Family Ministry (CPS) and a fieldworker for a local non-governmental organization (NGO) about an alarming number of pregnancies among female primary school students and asked how this problem could be addressed. In subsequent discussions with community leaders and other Volunteers, the PCV learned that a common cause of student pregnancy is sexual harassment and even rape by teachers. Using the Gender and Development resource manual, the PCV learned that a possible way to attack this problem is by discussing sexual harassment in schools and establishing alert communities in relevant communities. The PCV, NGO worker, and CPS representative identified six community leaders who could lead these discussions and act as resources for harassment victims. The PCV trained these leaders using the Victory Way sexual harassment manual, distributing copies of the manual to participants.

In May 2009, the PCV and three of the trainers visited the directors of one public and two private secondary schools to discuss the importance of sexual harassment training and to arrange dates for the training. In subsequent days, the team visited groups of students at each school and presented the Victory Way sexual harassment training. Participants learned the definition of sexual harassment, causes and consequences of sexual harassment, Beninese law protecting victims of sexual harassment, and the appropriate ways to report cases of sexual harassment. Most participants received handouts on sexual harassment.

During the subsequent school year, in November 2009, the PCV and two of the trainers visited the public secondary school and a combined group of students from the public and private secondary schools to give a more thorough presentation on sexual harassment. The trainers worked with these groups for four hours each, allowing students to share their experiences with sexual harassment and motivating the students to act as leaders through a discussion of civic responsibility. Student participants were selected by their directors on the basis of their leadership potential and were asked to work as peer educators, passing the information to other students and being responsible for communicating cases of sexual harassment to the authorities. They received handouts on sexual harassment and ate lunch together following the training.

Dates of Project: May – November 2009
Number of People Involved:
One adult female PCV led the project. Five adult Beninese men and one adult Beninese woman received training on sexual harassment and received copies of the Victory Way sexual harassment training manual. These trainers helped the PCV determine a schedule for sexual harassment trainings. Three of these trainers (all adult Beninese men) then helped the PCV implement the trainings in local schools. At each training, the men were primarily responsible for facilitating the discussions, while the PCV provided support as needed.

During the first school year (trainings in May 2009), 76 Beninese girls, 76 Beninese boys, two Beninese men, and one Beninese women attended the trainings at the schools. During the second school year (trainings in November 2009), 18 Beninese girls and 7 Beninese boys attended the trainings. All students were asked to actively participate in the trainings; they responded to questions about sexual harassment and shared their stories about personal experiences with sexual harassment in school.
Budget:

Item Number Unit Price Cost
Photocopies for training manuals and invitations 57 15 CFA 855 CFA
Small envelopes for invitations 6 12.5 CFA 75 CFA
Photocopies for student participants in May 2009 66 15 CFA 990 CFA
Transportation of trainers in May 2009 7 1.000 CFA 7.000 CFA
Photocopies for student participants in November 2009 Absorbed by PCV
Transportation of trainers in November 2009 Absorbed by community counterparts
Lunch for students in Village A in November 2009 15 200 CFA 3.000 CFA
Lunch for students in Village B in November 2009 10 300 CFA 3.000 CFA
Total Cost 14.920 CFA

Amount Requested: 14.920 CFA

Feedback:
This project's strength was in raising awareness about the problem of sexual harassment among local leaders, school administrators, and students. The presentations in schools encouraged discussion, and it was clear that sexual harassment was something all the students dealt with but were not aware was wrong. At a private high school in Village A, the director of the school (a woman) attended the presentation; she seemed unaware that sexual harassment took place. Shocked by the students' complaints, she said, “But you never complain to me!” and one girl responded, “Because we are AFRAID!” The presentation was clearly the first opportunity the director and her students had had to discuss the issue, and it allowed the director to encourage the students to talk to her. The PCV is not sure that students will actually follow up on this discussion by denouncing teachers who harass them; for my safety, the PCV does not think it is wise that she become too deeply involved in trying to persuade students to denounce their teachers. However, think the birth of a public discussion of this problem is an extremely important step. Groups of older students were most receptive to the training, actively sharing their personal experiences and asking for advice for how the students could meet again to discuss incidences of harassment. The PCV was later approached in town by several students and thanked for facilitating the conversation.

Another strength of this project was that it transferred skills to local leaders. Due to the PCV’s involvement, six local leaders received copies of the law and copies of the Victory Way training manual. The PCV played an important role in organizing the project, but let the leaders be responsible for running the presentations. Afterwards, the three men who gave the presentations seemed very inspired and eager to do more, though they seem unmotivated to do so without financial support. Because the PCV let them run the presentations, their own ability to carry out this work without help was understood. They also conveyed their presence to the students and their willingness to help them; even though all six trainers did not lead student trainings, they gained awareness of sexual harassment law that will help them seek recourse if ever called upon.

The greatest weakness of this project was the unwillingness of the local trainers to work without compensation. At every step of the project, they asked for compensation, despite repeated insistence that none was available. They also repeatedly stalled the project; for instance, at planning meetings they would attempt to put off decisions until another planning meeting. The PCV recommends that other PCVs work alone or with well-known and trusted counterparts, or that the PCV devise a clear training program and schedule before inviting counterparts to participate. Originally, the team had planned to continue trainings throughout 2010; however, because of these difficulties, the project was dropped after the trainings in November 2009.

An additional weakness of this project was that it was first initiated at the end of the school year, when harassment had already taken place. Beginning the project early in the second school-year was a more effective strategy.

Comments

GAD Coordinator: Excellent project with excellent feedback. Would like age breakdown of students. Recommend funding.
GAD Finance: Go, PCV! Recommend funding.

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