Giving young people the information, skills and knowledge they need
Few young people receive adequate preparation for their sexual lives. This leaves them potentially vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. Many young people approach adulthood faced with conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender. This is often exacerbated by embarrassment, silence and disapproval of open discussion of sexual matters by adults, including parents and teachers, at the very time when it is most needed. Globally, comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV among both young men and young women has increased slightly since 2003—but at only 34%, the number of young people with this comprehensive knowledge is only slightly greater than one third of the UNGASS target of 95%.
Evidence has shown that comprehensive sexuality education that is age-appropriate, gender-sensitive and life skills-based, can provide young people with the knowledge, skills and efficacy to make informed decisions about their sexuality and lifestyle. When young people are equipped with accurate and relevant information, when they have developed skills in decision-making, negotiation, communication and critical thinking, and have access to counselling and SRH/HIV services that are non-judgmental and affordable, they are better able to:
• Take advantage of educational and other opportunities that will impact their lifelong well-being;
• Avoid unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions;
• Improve their sexual and reproductive health and protect themselves against STIs including HIV; and
• Understand and question social norms and practices and contribute to society.
UNFPA advocates for and supports promotion of comprehensive sexuality education, provides programming guidance for both school and community settings, and advocates for wider educational opportunities for all young people with an emphasis on marginalized and adolescent girls. In addition to working with the education sector on mainstreaming comprehensive sexuality education across policy frameworks, curricula, coordination structures, monitoring systems and teacher training UNFPA also works through a number of other strategic initiatives and partnerships with civil society organizations.
- International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools teachers and health educators - Volume I, Volume II
- “It’s all One curriculum” Guidelines and activities for a unified approach to sexuality, gender, HIV and human rights education (Population Council 2009)
- Breaking the Cycle of Teenage Pregnancy
- Empowering Young Women to Lead Change: A Training Manual
- Peer Education Toolkit
- Report on International Consultation on Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Bogota 2010
- Global Guidance Briefs: HIV Interventions for Young people in the Education Sector