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Ntataise and its Network to combat violence against women and children at grassroots level.

Gender inequality and violence against women and children must be addressed at grassroots level, and early childhood is an important part of this. With funding from The Solidarity Fund, Ntataise has written a short course on combating Gender Based Violence (GBV) to upskill those who work in Early Childhood Development (ECD) on this urgent topic.

Ntataise has long been seen as a pioneer in the ECD sector. Founded in 1980, it has for more than 40 years worked to help women in disadvantaged, primarily rural communities gain the knowledge and skills they need to establish effective and sustainable ECD programmes for the children in their care.

When it comes to GBV and early childhood, studies from South Africa and other parts of the world show that male children who were exposed to violence and maltreatment from an early age are more likely to be violent towards their own children and partners in adulthood.

For girls, experiencing abuse during childhood increases the risk of becoming a victim of intimate partner violence later in life. This in turn increases the risk of women using corporal punishment against their own children. It is therefore critical to intervene early and support families to break this intergenerational cycle of violence.

Early education (birth to 5 years) is the formative phase where values systems and attitudes about gender expectations are set. In this phase children begin to learn and role model what they see at home, in pre-school, community and from the media.

Adults working in early education need to become aware of gender biases in early learning environments and how to use activities and interactions to help children break free from traditional stereotypes about gender which may limit their growth and development. The short course developed by Ntataise looks at how the current children’s curriculum can be used to strengthen play practice at all levels so that gender equality is premised as part of the norm not a ‘tourist theme”.

“By influencing the mindsets, attitudes and value sets about gender equality of adults working with young children and their parents, we hope to break the perpetual cycle of GBV,” says Sarah McGuigan, Executive Director of Ntataise. “We need to build anti-discriminatory and anti-bias mindsets from a young age, and in doing so help develop respectful, responsible and values-driven citizens who support and advocate for gender equality for generations to come.”

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