Ahead of International Women’s Day, we are calling for higher education institutes to work together with women’s organisations and other relevant bodies to tackle violence against women on campus.
The call is being made at our Ending Sexual Harassment and Violence in Third Level Education (ESHTE) project conference.
Orla O’Connor, Director of the National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI), our lead project partner, said,
“We know that women aged 18-29 are most likely to experience sexual harassment and violence. Many of these will be students which makes them less likely to report these crimes when compared with other groups. Sexual harassment and violence, offline and online, have a significant impact on their lives, yet many women experience an ongoing atmosphere of silence.
While sexual harassment and violence are not unique to higher education institutes, they are uniquely placed in showing leadership on this issue. The #MeToo movement has encouraged more women to speak out but they need our support. Through the ESTHE project we have shown an effective way forward to ensure women are safe and can study free from violence and harassment.”
Tara Brown, ESHTE Project Coordinator, said,
“Working with 15 higher education institutes from across Europe over the course of the project, we have seen a growing awareness that in order to have equality on campuses, we must tackle sexual harassment and violence. This cannot be achieved by higher education institutes in isolation but requires a multi-agency approach. This is why the collaborative approach that we adopted as part of the ESHTE project, bringing together women’s organisations like NWCI, An Garda Siochana, sexual violence services, student bodies and Government departments, was so important in achieving positive change. ”
The Toolkit can be used by higher education institutes to lead on this important change process. The Toolkit makes the case for leadership at the highest management level of higher education institutes. It emphasises the need to invest in comprehensive training for staff and to ensure strong collaborations with external partners, and it outlines the important role that student bodies have in reaching out to the student population on this issue.
Síona Cahill, President of the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) and member of the National Advisory Committee (NAC) for the ESHTE project, said,
“Students and Students’ Unions (SUs) play a key role in highlighting the issues that affect students and lead on grass roots campaigns that directly speak to students. Consent matters to us, and it should matter to our colleges. Leadership from higher education institutions must include supporting and resourcing student bodies to implement awareness raising campaigns on issues related to sexual harassment and violence, such as the successful It Stops Now campaign, that also features in the ESHTE toolkit.”
For more information, please contact Sarah Clarkin, Communications Officer of the NWCI, on +353 05 861 9087.