UNESCO recently released revised technical guidelines for comprehensive sex education (CSE), The publication identifies an urgent need for quality comprehensive sexuality education to:
- provide information and guidance to young people about the transition from childhood to adulthood and the physical, social and emotional challenges they face.
- tackle the challenges posed by sexual and reproductive health issues, which are particularly difficult during puberty, including access to contraception, early pregnancy, gender-based violence, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV and AIDS
- raise awareness of HIV prevention and transmission, of which only 34 per cent of young people around the world can demonstrate accurate knowledge
- complement or counter the large body of material of variable quality that young people find on the internet, and help them face increasingly common instances of cyberbullying.
When UNFPA invited partners to a global conference on CSE in Norway, IPPF and its Norwegian member association Sex og Politikk decided to host a conference on CSE to feed into the Norwegian governments conference.
On December 12-13 2017, almost 60 participants from 31 countries were gathered in Oslo, Norway to discuss CSE. In collaboration with IPPF secretariat, its central office and the six regional offices, Sex og Politikk prepared and hosted the conference. All the regions were represented by both member organisation representatives and regional office staff.
After the welcoming speech by NORAD director of health and education Paul Fife on behalf of the Government of Norway a panel of CSE best practices around the world set the scene, where we could hear from representatives of IPPFs member associations (MAs) in India, Denmark, Palestine, Togo, Thailand and Colombia.
Laura Hurley, technical adviser on youth at IPPF , gave an overview of the upcoming ‘CSE Institute’, which will be launched as a pilot in 2018. The Institute is working with the Swedish, Dutch and Danish MAs to develop technical assistance for other MAs wishing to build their CSE work, as part of the wider ‘Technical Assistance Network’ initiative. Two successful collaborations between IPPF MAs were also presented to inspire participants. RFSU Sweden’s collaboration with RHAC Cambodia on CSE, as well as Sex og Politikk Norway’s collaboration with CFPA Cyprus.
A lot of time was set aside for group discussions at the conference, to ensure that everyone had the chance to share their experiences. One of the conclusions was that there is a lot to learn from each other and that there is vital work being done by IPPF and its member associations on CSE around the world.
More specifically, the participants agreed on the importance of a multi-pronged approach to CSE, and including the whole community as much as possible both to deliver and to advocate for CSE. Another takeaway was to ensure a holistic approach to CSE on all levels. In many contexts, CSE can be controversial, and it is essential to know your context well in order to navigate the climate wisely.
UNESCO, Jenelle Babb, presented the revised technical guidelines on CSE for us. Attendees were glad to learn that the guidelines shift from CSE as ‘prevention’ to a positive framework and that links to the Sustainable Development Goals are included.
The conference concluded by agreeing a joint statement. The executive director of Sex og Politikk, Tor-Hugne Olsen, presented this statement to the UNFPA/Norway conference on December 14.
By: Marianne Støle-Nilsen, Senior Advisor, Sex og Politikk
The full report and summary can be found here.