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"We want to learn about Good Love": Report launch on links between CSE and VAWG

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SDDirect recently launched the report “We want to learn about Good love”: Findings from a qualitative study assessing the links between Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and Violence against Women and Girls, commissioned by Plan UK.

A panel discussion to launch the report was hosted on 11 February. Read more about the presenters and the discussion that took place.

Guests included a range of representatives from civil society, the NGO sector and donors, including from the British Council, DFID, FORWARD, Girl Effect, the Institute of Education at the University of London, Save the Children, Stonewall, and UN Women; as well as SDDirect’s alliance partners for the DFID VAWG Helpdesk ActionAid, International Rescue Committee and Womankind.

You can read the report on our publications page.


Photo Credit: Harri Lee, SDDirect (from left Liz Ford - The Guardian, Victoria Schauerhammer - SDDirect, Heather Saunders - Plan UK) 


The presenters

Chaired by Liz Ford (Deputy Editor of Guardian Global Development) it included presentations from:  

  • Heather Saunders (Policy and Advocacy Advisor at Plan UK) and Victoria Schauerhammer (one of the report authors and the lead for the qualitative data collection for the study in Uganda) provided an overview of the report and discussed the key insights from the research, focusing on challenges and opportunities with reference to the Uganda context.
  • Joanna Herat (Senior Programme Specialist on Health and Education at UNESCO) spoke about UNESCO’s work on CSE, including a recent survey of policy, evidence and learning, as well as the recently produced guidelines on school-related sexual and gender-based violence produced by SDDirect’s Erika Fraser and Senior Associate Khadijah Fancy.  
  • Lucy Emmerson (Sex Education Forum) spoke about CSE and the work of the sex education forum in England, policy and evidence from the UK context, and good quality Sex and Relationships Education (SRE) guidance for teachers – including the recent decision on making sex education non-compulsory.
  • Doortje Braeken (Senior Adviser on Adolescents, Gender and Rights at International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)) shared some of IPPF’s lessons on CSE in non-formal settings and approaches to CSE in communities. She spoke about a number of ongoing and new initiatives planned for 2016 – including efforts to improve the quality of the delivery of CSE in formal and non- formal settings, working closely with UNESCO and other stakeholders.


The discussion

The speakers shared their learning and evidence on best practice and the challenges of CSE, and considered why innovative CSE is relevant for international development agencies across education, SRHR, VAWG and gender equality programming. There was great interest in the report and a lively discussion about the research, broader implications for programming and policy, and driving forward thinking on policy and advocacy on CSE in development.  Some interesting insights:

  • CSE is often siloed between education, health, sexual and reproductive rights and health (SRHR) and VAWG programming. Whilst the case for CSE has already been made in relation to health outcomes, there is less evidence linking the provision of CSE to education and VAWG outcomes.
  • While government commitment is often strong in terms of policy, implementation falls behind in many contexts.
  • It is crucial to provide CSE as part of formal and non-formal education. A building block approach for this is best (evidence shows that one-off interventions are not effective), starting CSE at a young age and continuing throughout schooling (this is particularly important given the presence of many overage children in primary and the drop off in enrolment at secondary level).
  • The fine balance between positivity versus protectionism: this generated a lot of discussion with several participants, calling for an approach that recognises risks for young people but which also promotes the idea that individuals can have sexual confidence, literacy, empowerment, solidarity, and – perhaps most controversially – pleasure.
  • It is essential to be gender inclusive – literature, policy and programming tends to refer to “boys and girls”, which can neglect more complex dimensions of individuals.
  • There is a need to recognise the realities of challenges in education when talking about CSE provision – lagging infrastructure, poor teaching and language barriers all mean that the provision of a truly comprehensive, relevant and accurate sexuality education is challenging.