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Girls and Boys Education Movement

UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker
© UNICEF South Africa/2013/Schermbrucker

Empowering young people to support their communities

Despite great strides in furthering gender equality in post-apartheid South Africa, the reality is that girl children are often more disadvantaged when it comes to accessing quality education and future employment opportunities.

To meet this challenge, UNICEF supported the creation of the Girls Empowerment Movement (GEM) clubs in schools throughout South Africa. Originally started in Uganda, the movement has grown and young people dedicated to the promotion of children's rights are forming GEM/BEM clubs in their schools and communities.

Since its formalized launch in 2003, GEM/BEM has gone from strength to strength in South Africa, and a guide, developed by UNICEF in partnership with the Department of Basic Education (DBE), has been finalized for the learners and educators to address social issues affecting young people in schools as there are hundreds of so-called ‘Gemmers and Bemmers’ countrywide

The GEM clubs aim to empower girls to participate in leadership activities and to be pro-active in ensuring their own educational progress. Boys participate in the Boy Empowerment Movement (BEM) clubs as partners who support the empowerment of both girls and themselves, in order to achieve gender equality in education and in society as a whole.

UNICEF and the DBE, as well as Save the Children, have been working together to strengthen advocacy and communication activities focusing on young people through the GEM-BEM platform. The programme is also built into the Child Friendly Schools (CFS) initiative, with an emphasis on promoting gender equality in schools, as well as training GEM/BEM members in peer education and life skills.

GEM/BEM is seen as a social movement of choice for young South Africans as they endeavour to address challenges they face in their daily lives.

For more information about starting a club read the guide or contact the GEM/BEM Project Officer: Lyle Jacobs:

Also check out the Facebook group by searching for GEM/BEM Sport


I am my sister's & brother's keeper: Girls & Boys Education Movement Clubs - A guidebook for schools

This booklet is a result of a consultative process with learners, educators and parents to develop guidelines that will help learners to start a Girls and Boys Education Movement (G/BEM) club in their schools. The guidebook gives learners practical ideas on activities that can be implemented.

(PDF documents require Acrobat Reader to view.)





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