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Assessing the links between sexuality education and VAWG in Cambodia and Uganda


In early 2015, SDDirect was selected by Plan UK to undertake qualitative research to assess the connections between comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and violence against women and girls (VAWG).

Informed by a global desk review and participatory qualitative research in Cambodia and Uganda, our team developed a theory of change linking CSE to VAWG.

Our report, “WE WANT TO LEARN ABOUT GOOD LOVE”: findings from a qualitative study assessing the links between Comprehensive Sexuality Education And Violence Against Women And Girls, was published in October 2015 and can be found here and in our Publications section.

The findings highlight the significant potential of CSE as a mechanism to shift social norms which underpin VAWG in different settings. In particular, we found evidence around four key pathways to change.

Key findings included:

  • CSE is a key area for engaging with harmful social norms and promoting positive gender norms
  • CSE can empower young people and improve their confidence, self efficacy and decision making
  • Engaging the wider community in CSE dialogue is key to success
  • CSE must be delivered alongside confidential, accessible VAWG referral and reporting mechanisms

However, our team found that CSE does not currently go far enough in engaging in wider social norms and unequal gender norms continue to pose challenges to young people’s ability to form positive and healthy relationships free from violence. In both contexts, social norms condoning VAWG remain pervasive, highlighting the need for integrated gender-transformative approaches to tackling harmful social norms.

SDDirect is pleased to contribute to improving the evidence base around connections between CSE and VAWG. The report provides recommendations for Plan, governments, donors and wider stakeholders’ engaged in CSE.