Sexual Health Education
If unintended pregnancies are to be prevented, effective contraceptives must be accessible, wherever possible without obstacles. But this is not the only requirement. Teenagers and young adults must be free to decide for themselves whether they are ready to have a child and understand the consequences of their decision.
The reality is different, however, and the people who suffer most are girls and young women in developing countries. According to the 2013 UNFPA State of the World Population Report, 19 percent of all girls in developing countries become pregnant before their 18th birthday. Many are already married by this time. The figures show the full extent of the problem: 20,000 teenager births per year, 3.2 million unsafe abortions, and 70,000 deaths among teenagers due to complications during pregnancy and birth. Many of the girls affected leave school, thus losing the chance of a future career and the means to provide for themselves and their child.
Although teenagers in developed countries are less seriously affected, there is a need for better sex education here, too. Surveys have shown that many teenagers and young adults do not use a contraceptive the 'first time' with a new partner, even if they have the opportunity to do so. This means they are not only risking the far-reaching consequences of an unintended pregnancy (or abortion), which in the long term can involve a considerable poverty risk in addition to the health risks; they also run the risk of becoming infected with sexually transmitted diseases.
It is an important societal task to give teenagers and young adults a comprehensive sexual health education, to provide them with the knowledge they need to make self-determined decisions in sexuality and family planning, and to initiate changes in society aimed at strengthening the right of girls and young women to take self-determined decisions in family planning. Sex education is therefore a key pillar in our global commitment.
Young Adolescents Project
Together with the DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung), Bayer has therefore launched an innovative program to improve young adolescents' access to information on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). The Young Adolescents Project (YAP) was launched in Uganda in 2009 and extended to Kenya in 2013. The project provides adolescents aged between ten and 14 with age-appropriate information about sexuality and contraception. Pupils talk about reproductive-health topics and learn how to prevent unintended pregnancies and protect themselves from infection with HIV or other sexual transmitted diseases.
Parents, teachers and community representatives are involved from the outset, and the project is integrated into the local school routine. This makes it possible to achieve long-term changes: parents and their children can talk openly about sexuality and contraception, and a different understanding of gender roles develops that strengthens the position of girls. Such radical changes are only possible if there is broad support in the social environment – as shown by the experience gained with the YAP in Uganda.
Successes of the Young Adolescents Project in Uganda 2009-2012
More than 7,100 pupils, 1,900 parents and 340 teachers were supplied with important information on sexuality, contraception and HIV prevention.
Two years after the project started, more than 90 percent of the adolescents already had a comprehensive knowledge of HIV and AIDS – compared to 25 percent before the project.
Seven schools reported a significant decline in female drop-out rates – from 118 in 2008 to 29 in 2011: a great success, since education is key to development.
Since 2012 the YAP Uganda has been continued and expanded by teachers, district representatives, pupils and parents on their own initiative.
Work on the project led to the compilation of a methods manual, which has been a big help in adapting the project for use in Kenya
World Contraception Day
Grow up first – then start a family. This is World Contraception Day's aim for young people worldwide. Well-known international and national non-governmental and governmental organizations use the campaign to promote a responsible approach to sexuality and contraception. Bayer has been involved since the initiative began and supports it with information material and financially as the main sponsor.
World Contraception Day celebrated its tenth anniversary in 2013. The activities culminate every year on September 26 with a wide range of events, press conferences and concerts in about 70 countries all over the world. However, the campaign continues all year, using mainly channels where young people can best be reached. In addition to events for teachers, parents and medical professionals, there is the website www.your-life.com , which provides information on contraception and sexuality and promotes dialog. In the course of the campaign celebrities, young bloggers, local organizations and the media have built bridges to young people and spoken out in favor of the World Contraception Day objectives.
Overcoming deplorable ignorance
Bayer and its partners commissioned several studies between 2009 and 2011. A total of 14,000 young people from 29 countries were polled to find out about their knowledge and attitudes on contraception and sexuality. The surveys revealed dramatic gaps in knowledge, suggesting a great need for more information on sexuality and contraception.
The participating partner organizations:
- Asian Pacific Council on Contraception (APCOC)
- Centro Latinoamericano Salud y Mujer (CELSAM)
- European Society of Contraception and Reproductive Health (ESC)
- DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung)
- International Federation of Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology (FIGIJ)
- International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF)
- Marie Stopes International (MSI)
- Population Services International (PSI)
- The Population Council
- The United States Agency for International Development (USAID)
- Women Deliver
GeNext Uganda: sex education among peers
A special sex-education program under the auspices of World Contraception Day was initiated in Uganda by the DSW (Deutsche Stiftung Weltbevoelkerung) and Bayer in 2013. Under the motto 'GeNext Uganda: My Life, My Future', it aims to reach 18,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24 within a year.
Initially, 60 young volunteers are being trained as 'multipliers'. They will subsequently independently organize events in their communities to provide sex education, raise their peers' awareness of contraception, and encourage more young people to work as multipliers.
Furthermore, health camps in cooperation with the local health authorities offer teenagers advice on all subjects relating to family planning and encourage them to put any questions they might have to the local health institutions.
Bayer collaborates with various non-governmental organizations to offer sex-education programs that take people's age, gender and differing cultural sensitivities into account. This video informs about our commitment in Uganda.
The earlier we educate young teenagers on sexual health, the better!
The Young Adolescents Project in Uganda started in 2009 as a joint initiative between DSW and Bayer. Project-coordinator David Kafambe talks about goals and perspectives and shares some first-hand experience working with young adolescents in ten communities in Uganda.