Looking at Violence from the Gender Perspective

International Conference, Hamburg
November 12-14, 2008


On this page you find a short biography and presentation of the speakers of the conference. We have asked them for their personal understanding of the term violence in order to demonstrate the variety of definitions.

Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro

In the inter-American system, Paulo S. Pinheiro is one of the seven commissioners of the OAS's (Organization of American States) Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for the 2004 to 2011 period, with special responsibility for the rights of children. He is the former Independent Expert for the UN study on violence against children (2003-2007). He presented the World Report on Violence against children on November 2006. He was also an UN Special Rapporteur on Myanmar.
He is a research associate at the Center for the Study of Violence, University of São Paulo, which he founded in 1987. He held academic positions at the University of São Paulo, Brown University, Columbia University, Notre Dame University, UK’s Oxford University and the École des hautes études en sciences sociales in Paris.
Mr. Pinheiro served as Secretary of State for Human Rights, under President Cardoso, Brazil, as Special Counsel to the Governor of São Paulo State, Brazil, and as Rapporteur of the Brazilian National Human Rights Plan.
He is married to Ana Luiza and has three children, Daniela, Andre, and Marina. He lives in Saõ Paulo, Brazil.

Statement on violence
The definition of violence is that of article 19 of the CRC: “all forms of physical or mental violence, injury and abuse, neglect or negligent treatment, maltreatment or exploitation, including sexual abuse.” It also draws on the definition in the World Report on Violence and Health (2002): “the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against a child, by an individual or group, that either results in or has a high likelihood of resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity.”


Fiona Leach

Fiona Leach is Professor of International Education at the University of Sussex, UK. She worked in Africa as a teacher and education adviser for many years before becoming an academic. She has published widely in the field of gender and education, and has carried out several research studies on gender violence in African schools, including two for the Department for International Development in the UK. She has a particular interest in participatory research methodologies and action research as a means of raising awareness of, and combating, gender violence in schools. She is co-editor of the books Combating Gender Violence in and around Schools (Trentham, 2006) and Conflict and Reconciliation: Education in the 21st Century (Peter Lang, 2007) and is author of Gender Analysis in Education (Oxfam, 2003). She also contributed to the recent World Report on Violence against Children (United Nations, 2006).

Statement on violence
Violence can take physical, sexual, verbal, emotional and/or psychological forms. It can be both explicit (overt) and implicit (hidden). It includes the fear of violence. All violent acts are gendered as they are underpinned by socially sanctioned norms of masculine and feminine behaviour, which interact with other social markers such as race, ethnicity, religion, age or social class. School violence helps perpetuate unequal and antagonistic gender relations in society.


Ann Kristin Vervik

Ann-Kristin Vervik is head of the human rights section in Plan Norway and is part of Plan’s global working group on follow-up to the World Report “Violence Against Children” (VAC). She has a higher law degree from the Universities of Oslo and Bergen. She specialised in Public International Law and her main field of study was the human rights based approach to development, with special focus on the complementarities of the CRC and CEDAW. Her work is particularly devoted to gender-based violence and non-discrimination and equality socially excluded children. She is a member of the NGO Group’s subgroups on violence against children and children without parental care. Ann-Kristin has grass-root experience from Burkina Faso and Norway and is currently involved in program follow-up in South-East Asia, Latin America and Southern and Eastern Africa.

Statement on violence
I use the definition of VAC as stated in the CRC articles 19 and 37, which includes all forms of physical and psychological violence, sexual abuse, neglect, torture, cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, as well as harmful traditional practices and other forms of gender-based violence. Violence against children need not be intentional. The act may have another intention than violence. One example is female genital mutilation. The intention may be to follow traditions, but it still harms the child and violates her physical and psychological safety and integrity.


Youth Project

From February 2008 to April 2009, 100 girls and boys from seven countries around the world discuss the gender dimension of violence in schools. The 14 to19-year-olds exchange their ideas online and with the support of Plan and the Institute for the Constructive Management of Conflict and for Mediation (ikm) they develop concrete steps on how to achieve violence-free schools and compile guidelines for their peers. These young people all have practical experience in violence prevention as mediators in their schools and multipliers in their youth clubs. In a four day workshop at the end of July 2008 in Hamburg, representatives from Africa (Tanzania, Uganda), Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador), Asia (Philippines, India) and Europe (Germany) laid the foundations for a peer-to-peer manual on prevention and intervention strategies. This manual will be presented at the conference.

Statement on violence

You can find statements on violence from participants of the workshop on this website.


Victorine Kemonou Djitrinou

Human rights defender, women rights activist, trainer, campaigner and development worker, Victorine Kemonou Djitrinou joined Action Aid education team in 2005. She is leading ActionAid education campaign works through providing leadership on developing innovative campaigning and advocacy work across the organization, particularly reinforcing approaches to people-centred campaigning and encouraging strong links between grassroots mobilization and high-level influencing work, through working closely with coalitions, alliances, networks at different levels and developing new partnerships –especially with teachers unions, human rights and women’s movements. She is currently leading ActionAid campaigns on the impact of International financial institutions on education financing, violence against girls at school, adult literacy. She has a rich background in capacity building, initiating and coordinating women human rights activist networks, advocacy and campaigns, board member. She worked with Education International and is involved in organisations such as Amnesty International at national, regional and international levels.

Statement on violence
Violence against girls takes place in the wider context of patriarchy, gender based discrimination, unequal power relations, exclusion and poverty. Girls are at risk in the community, at home, on the way to and from school, in school grounds and even in the classroom. In school, violence takes a range of forms including aggressive sexual behavior, intimidation and physical assault by older boys and adults, sexual advances by male teachers, corporal punishment and verbal abuses, which are significant factors in forcing girls out of the education system in the absence of adequate mechanisms to address the issue.


Peter Newell

Peter Newell is an advocate for children’s rights in the UK and internationally. He is the Coordinator of the Global Initiative to End All Corporal Punishment of Children (www.endcorporalpunishment.org). He was a member of Professor Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro’s Editorial Board for the UN Secretary General’s Study on Violence against Children and co-chairs the international NGO Advisory Council for follow-up to the UNSG’s Study. He is co-author with his partner, Rachel Hodgkin, of UNICEF’s Implementation Handbook on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, and successive fully revised editions of it (third edition published 2007). Peter has worked frequently as a consultant for UNICEF, in particular advising on general measures for implementation of the Convention of the Rights of the Child and on establishment of independent human rights institutions for children.

Statement on violence
When people ask for definitions of violence against children, it tends to be because they want to justify some arbitrary level of violence - usually "disguised" as discipline. We have got beyond such discussions over violence against women or elderly people: violence is violence and policies of zero tolerance are adopted. So the main consideration in discussion about definition must be to make sure that adults are not hypocritically trying to maintain approval for some form or degree of violence when directed at a child.


Sara Humphreys

Sara Humphreys is a Visiting Lecturer at the Centre for International Education at the University of Sussex and a freelance educator and researcher. She has lived and worked as a teacher and teacher educator in Ecuador, France, Sweden, Namibia, Botswana and in the UK, primarily in the area of language teaching and learning. In recent years her work has involved teaching and research in various countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, the UK and in Pakistan, focusing on gender and school processes, disciplinary practices and classroom interaction.

Statement on violence
Violence is a complex gendered phenomenon, ranging from deliberate extreme acts to its subtle embeddedness in everyday processes. It comprises individual or collective behaviour – threatened or actual, intentional or unintentional – that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, emotional, psychological, sexual, economic, structural or symbolic harm to oneself or other person(s).


Cesar Bazan

Cesar Bazan is a Peruvian national and joined Plan in 2007 as Campaign Research Coordinator. His varied background includes corporate communications and leading the Peruvian World AIDS Day Campaign.
Prior to joining Plan, Cesar was a consultant to the Pan American Health Organization and one of the Global Co-Chairs of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network.
He holds an MSc in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and an MA in Communication for Development from Sweden. Cesar has also worked as a Research Associate at the Institute of Education for the University of London.
At Plan International Headquarters, Cesar supports advocacy and campaigns by research and analysis at global level and contributes to campaign planning and implementation.


Naila Abushora

Naila Abushora works as a Learning Advisor in Plan Sudan, where her focus is on innovative community-based education and promotion of girl’s education. Since 1977 she is strong in advocacy and in influencing policy makers attitudes in giving the necessary support and space for actors to engage in improving education. She champions’ the voice of children in ensuring their views are heard in improving education quality.


World Café

Beatrice Okyere

Dr. Beatrice Okyere received her B.Ed and M.Ed degrees at the University of Cape Coast, Ghana and her Ph.D degree at the Ohio State University, Columbus Ohio, USA. She has more than 20 years of professional experience in university teaching, and a proven record of success in international project management and consultancies, particularly in gender issues and girls’ education, improving educational quality, creating safe school environments for boys and girls, community mobilization and inclusive education.
She has worked on international projects funded primarily by USAID but also with other international organizations such as the World Bank and UNICEF, planning and providing oversight of project implementation activities, supervising and participating in research studies to inform policy and influence practice, and monitoring and evaluating programs.
She has taught general and special education courses at graduate and undergraduate levels in preparing and equipping pre-service teachers and planned professional development programs for in-service teachers in Ghana and abroad.

Statement on violence
Violence is any action or inaction that causes physical or psychological pain to others. This may stem from either the mere use of power and force to satisfy one’s self at the expense of others or the traditional beliefs bordering on inequities of gender roles and expectations in relationships resulting in the deprivation or violation of the rights of others.

Günter Haverkamp

Günter Haverkamp spent a significant part of his career working in commerce before moving into journalism in the 1980s. He published a journal on political asylum and was actively involved in this area as well. Furthermore he has produced several features especially for radio and TV. Before the Iraq war in 2003, Günter convinced other journalists to launch “Aktion Weißes Friedensband” ("Campaign White Ribbon of Peace"), which became a non-profit organisation one year later. The NGO aims to strengthen young people and at the same time raise public awareness of human rights. The campaign “Red Hand Action” against the use of child soldiers started in 2004 and has by now developed into a global campaign. Through these and other activities on child prostitution, FGM, media, environment and violence “Aktion Weißes Friedensband” raises awareness among youth, politicians and partner organisations.

Statement on violence
Violence is the echo by which society can recognize its own mistakes. Young people with their growing strengths need visible evidence that they are accepted in their community instead of it demanding their adaptation. We have to give young people the opportunity to present their ideas be assigned a role and be taken seriously.

Nada Ignjatovic Savic

Born in April, 1947 in Serbia, Nada has been working as a university lecturer and researcher in developmental psychology at the University of Belgrade for 30 years. She has led many research and intervention projects, and has published several books and programs in the field of personal development, communication, social interaction and education.
Co-founder and director of the Center for non-violent communication " Smile keepers", NGO concerned primarily with psychosocial help, self and group awareness raising, reconstruction of educational practice and social change.
Since 1993 certified by Marshall Rosenberg to teach his Model of Nonviolent Communication, she has been giving training in NVC in European countries, Israel, and has been a co-trainer with M. Rosenberg at many ten day Intensive International training in Europe and India.
She was offering different programs within education for peace and healing the wounds of the war with many groups from Ex-Yu countries.
Since 2001 member of the expert team for democratisation of education at the Ministry of Education in Serbia and author of the program of Civic education for elementary school.
Author of programs "Smile keepers" aiming at promoting educative competence in teachers and parents, and promoting personality development in children aged 5-18 (3 programs).

18 years old, Germany


“I don’t like the fact that in some countries there is still a lot of violence in schools and that people using violence, especially teachers, do not get punished.”

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