Senior students from the Gibraltar College, Westside and Bayside secondary schools came together at Victoria Stadium yesterday and formed a ‘love heart’, linking arms in joint support of the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The Department of Equality worked with the Department of Education in order to raise awareness of this issue with school pupils.
“Violence against women and girls is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in our world today,” said a Government statement.
Joining students on the pitch yesterday were the Minister for Education Dr John Cortes and Minister for Equality Samantha Sacramento, together with teachers from the schools.
While the official date of the Elimination of Violence Against Women is this Saturday, the schools have been working on a program to bring awareness to the campaign as part of the curriculum.
All schools on the Rock have been carrying out their own initiatives to showcase ‘respect and healthy relationships’ or to promote awareness of domestic abuse.
Joseph Butron, 17, is a student at Bayside and took part in the event yesterday, highlighting the teamwork involved and saying he had enjoyed the experience.
“The event was for equality and for the elimination of violence against women and there was a nice message with that massive heart that bonded both a male school and a female school,” he said.
Students were told to wear white tops and all had an orange ribbon pinned to their clothing.
“What it all meant to me was the equality and the essence of equality, with both the male and female schools joining together, the naturalness of how it happened and how everyone was happy to take part in it,” he added.
Natalie Herzog, 18, is a student at Westside who also enjoyed the event.
“It felt really natural, it felt like you’re hanging with your friends trying to make awareness for something important that needs to end,” she said.
“It was really important, but really simple as well.”
“With the guys taking part, it shows more unity and shows their solidarity as they are affected by it, although it just usually impacts women more.”
“But it is important that it is spoken about with everyone,” she added.
Both ministers were delighted with the students’ efforts and thanked them for their commitment to renouncing violence in all its forms.
“Education is much more than academic attainment, the Department of Education also has a role in educating children on real social issues that may affect them,” Dr Cortes said.
“We generally do this through PSHE. Domestic abuse is clearly an important issue and we are now developing a strategic approach to this, learning as part of the strategy being developed by the Ministry for Equality. By working together we will achieve more effective results.”
Ms Sacramento said the event had proved “very emotive”.
“What we are trying to put across is the symbolic image of boys and girls linking arms in solidarity and everybody standing up and being against domestic violence, particularly abuse against women,” she said.
“There has been a lot of work done in the schools leading up to this event and we will continue to develop it and engrain it in the curriculum because we want to achieve two objectives.”
“The principal objective is to deal with the prevention of domestic abuse through education; our aim is to education the next generation.”
“It’s about planting the seed and every year we will do a bit more.”
The other objective is the ensure that students who may be experiencing or witnessing domestic violence know that it is wrong, that people are there for them and support will be given to them should they ever need it.