Education Cannot Wait Announces US$325,000 Grant to Support Survivors of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence Through Innovative Education Initiative

New ECW Acceleration Facility grant, delivered by the Global Survivors Fund, will provide quality education as a form of reparation for survivors of Boko Haram’s conflict-related sexual violence and children born of war in Nigeria.

NEW YORK, Dec. 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — In northeast Nigeria, fourteen years of violence by the insurgency group Boko Haram has left a painful and lasting mark on the childhoods, safety and education of countless girls and women, with schools and family homes being regularly targeted by attacks and mass kidnappings.

On 14 October 2016, Interview excerpts with 17-year old ‘Aminata’, who was forced to live with Boko Haram for 2 years: “They dragged me to a car. They had taken me and another 14 girls from my neighborhood. I was held there for two months and then I was forced to marry one of the insurgents. Every time he wanted to have sex I refused, and then he would rape me and beat me up. My ‘husband’ told me that if he decides or wants to, he will send me and my co-wife to town as suicide bombers. I really miss my family and I wish I could see them again.” UNICEF estimates that +7,000 women and girls have been held and subjected to violence by Boko Haram. Most are believed to have been raped or forcibly “married” to their captors. When they manage to escape or are released, they need psychological and medical support to come to terms with their experiences and reintegrate with their families and communities. In addition to the trauma of captivity, many face stigmatization, discrimination and rejection by family and community upon return. Community members are often afraid the women and girls have been indoctrinated by Boko Haram and pose a threat to their communities. UNICEF, in collaboration with International Alert, provides psychosocial support for girls and women who have experienced sexual violence, including their children born as a result

To support the learning and wellbeing of survivors of conflict-related sexual violence and children born of war in this region, Education Cannot Wait (ECW) announced today a US$325,000 grant to the Global Survivors Fund (GSF). This 12-month Acceleration Facility grant will reach survivors, as well as their children and families, in states affected by Boko Haram’s violence and support their access to holistic, quality education.

“Sexual violence is too often used as a weapon of war and terror in crisis contexts around the world. It is appalling, unacceptable and a severe breach of the law. Every girl and boy deserves protection from sexual violence and they have a right to be safe to learn, develop and reach their full potential. Education Cannot Wait is honored to partner with the Global Survivors Fund to provide safe, inclusive, and gender-responsive quality education services co-created with survivors of Boko Haram’s despicable sexual violence. Our investments provide reparative measure so they can heal, learn, gain skills, and be empowered to reimagine their futures, free of terror and stigmatization. Together, ECW and GSF will work with survivors to ensure they get a new chance in life,” said Yasmine Sherif, Executive Director of Education Cannot Wait, the global fund for education in emergencies and protracted crises.

Launched by Nobel Peace Prize laureates Dr. Denis Mukwege and Nadia Murad, GSF’s mission is to enhance access to reparations for survivors of conflict-related sexual violence around the world.

Through this partnership, ECW will support GSF to implement its core mission of co-creation with survivors, who determine what reparations means to them, and how they want their reparative measures to be defined and implemented. The initiative also aims to raise national and international awareness of the importance and impact of providing education as a form of reparation to these affected populations in Nigeria.

“Children affected by conflict-related sexual violence represent a largely invisible community and their specific rights and needs are overlooked in reparation initiatives worldwide. For these children, the profound physical, psychological and socio-economic consequences, as well as their strained relationships with family and community, have life-altering outcomes. They often drop out of school and face obstacles in re-entering the education system. This partnership with Education Cannot Wait will help GSF’s project for child victims of Boko Haram. These children need to finally go back to school and receive the necessary support to start healing,” said Nadia Murad, Co-Founder of the Global Survivors Fund.

After their release or escape, Boko Haram survivors experience revictimization and stigmatization in their communities. They’re often viewed as tainted, or labeled “Boko Haram wives” and assumed to carry the ideologies of the insurgent group. Their children are also cast off, and not allowed to associate with other children. Every part of their lives – social, educational and economic – is severely disrupted.

Through all of this, education stands as a right and form of reparation which can enable these women and girls to reintegrate in society, build life skills and transform their futures. As well as supporting their academic journeys, this new grant will also ensure survivors have regular visits with mental health and psychosocial support case workers, supporting their psychological – as well as their social and academic – recovery.

This investment demonstrates ECW’s commitment to reaching those left furthest behind in crises, and is also in line with the Fund’s gender transformative approach to education in emergencies and protracted crises and localisation agenda. GSF will directly implement the initiative in Nigeria, in partnership with two local organizations – the Centre for Girl Child Education and the Youth Initiative Against Terrorism.

ECW’s Acceleration Facility funding mechanism is dedicated to supporting the creation of global public goods and resources for the education in emergencies sector. This latest grant brings total ECW investments through its Acceleration Facility window to over US$26 million, and is a key part of ECW’s Strategic Plan to mobilize US$1.5 billion over the next three years to reach 20 million crisis-affected children.

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