Participants from UN Member states and non-governmental organizations came to attend the side event. After a quick lunch outside conference room E, it was time to settle around the table, along the wall and for the late-comers: on the floor.
The importance of sexual education
The moderator, Norway's Permanent Representative Morten Wetland, gave a short introduction. He said all young people have a right to access information and education about gender, sexuality and sexual and reproductive health and rights. Comprehensive Sexuality Education is an effective strategy to ensure access to such education. He pointed out that solid evidence exists about the effectiveness of comprehensive sexuality education on the health, empowerment and well-being of young people.
The goal of the side event was to bring forward evidence about how age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education can empower young people to make responsible decisions about their sexuality and sexual and reproductive health. By placing gender and rights at the centre, comprehensive sexuality education is an essential component of women’s empowerment and gender equality, which in turn has major benefits for development.
There were four panelists. One of them was Jani Toivola, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Finnish All Party Parliamentary Group on Population and Development. He encouraged grown-ups not to be afraid of speaking about sexuality with youth, but giving them the ability to build their own identity in a secure way.
Doortje Braeken, Senior Advisor og Adolscents and Youth from the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) presented facts about the effectiveness of sexuality education.
Sadaf Nasim, youth volunteer with the Rhanuma-Family Planning Association of Pakistan, explained abouth the challenges young people face in order to get sexuality education in Pakistan. She underlined the importance of giving young people the means to make informed choices in life.
Finally, the Deputy Permanent Representative of Kenya to the UN, Josephine Ojiambo, spoke about the situation for youth in Kenya. She explained how policies regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights are in place, but challenges still remain in implementation.
Following the panelists’ presentations several people in the audience came forward to offer comment and pose questions and a lively discussion ensued.
See photos from the event here.