In November European youth advocates from Cyprus, Georgia, Poland, Romania and the Netherlands came together to set up an advocacy plan to bring attention to the need for comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). We came prepared: each country-team had researched their national policy context on CSE and identified the key issues that needed to be addressed. With this information, we looked at opportunities to influence policy and develop policy recommendations in order to improve or implement comprehensive sexuality education in the country.
Why did we meet up?
Eastern Europe is a region that still faces huge economic and social disparities and persisting inequalities, which hinder human rights’ advancement. Recently, the region has encountered the rise of well-organized and funded opposition aiming to block access of youth and women to basic reproductive and sexual health services and information(1). Not only are young women in Eastern Europe three times more likely to have an abortion or unintended pregnancy than young women in Western Europe, the region also struggles with a growing epidemic of HIV/AIDS. In addition, Gender-based violence is widespread(2), homophobic and transphobic attitudes persist, and a significant part of Europe’s youth population does still not have access to comprehensive sexuality education(3). But also in Western European countries such as the Netherlands not all young people have access to proper comprehensive sexuality education.
We feel that this should change This is a problem because Comprehensive Sexuality Education programs help young people develop self-esteem and life skills that encourage critical thinking, clear communication, responsible decision-making and respectful behaviour(4). Only when young people are fully informed about their options can they protect themselves against diseases and make decisions about their own body.
Considering the current realities in Eastern Europe and The Netherlands and the challenges for advancing the CSE agenda, CHOICE and YouAct want to empower and encourage young leaders to influence their national policies. We are therefore joining forces: while focussing on the key issues in each respective country, we also work together and support each other in our advocacy for the implementation of CSE programs in Europe. We need to create a supportive environment for CSE integration in national level policies!
So join our campaign! Follow our posts, read about the experiences young people had with sexuality education, share the infographics and talk to each other: what are your experiences and how can we make sure that comprehensive sexuality education is available for every young person in Europe?
Europe Unite for CSE Rights!
(1) Study for policy makers on opposition to sexual and reproductive health and rights in Europe http://www.heidihautala.fi/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/SRHR-Europe-Study-_-Elena-Zacharenco.pdf
(2) European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights, Violence against women: an EU-wide survey, 2014.
(3) European Parliament Directorate-General for internal policies, Policy Department C: Citizen’s rights and constitutional affairs, Policies for Sexuality Education in the European Union, 2013.