[:en]In many religious communities, the issue of addressing sex and sexuality among young people is a taboo. Many religious leaders and communities have developed significant stigma leading to a deafening silence around issues of sexuality. This makes adolescents more vulnerable to HIV infections and other sexual and reproductive health challenges.
In order to protect themselves, it is crucial that young people access sexuality education and information in both school settings and the community – among parents, community leaders and faith-based institutions. If young people are receiving the same accurate information about their sexuality, it enables them to protect themselves from HIV infections and make other safe decisions so they can live healthier lives.
Engaging parents and communities in the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education programs is a critical factor for success. UNESCO, INERELA+ and Save the Children came together for a participatory capacity building workshop in early November 2015 in Johannesburg, South Africa, to open the dialogue for religious leaders, young people and parents on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
The workshop aimed to build capacity of religious leaders, parents and young people in talking to other young people about their sexual and reproductive health rights. It also allowed for collaboration across 10 different countries in the region in the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education in and out of school.
“By the end of the workshop I was informed, educated and, most of all, empowered on matters related to CSE,” said Benson Kanyi Wairimu, a young person from Kenya. “I got to understand why we young people are of importance in our homes, churches and the community at large. As a young person, I will put into action what I have learnt during the workshop and educate my peers with the correct information,” he continued.
“As parents, we appreciate the content covered, the empowerment, patience and empathy seen this week,” said Mrs. Judith Mthupha, a parent who participated in the workshop. “We are now aware of the responsibility we have as parents in reaching out to young people about comprehensive sexuality education.”
“This week has acted as a foundation for religious leaders. Only now have we begun to develop a positive language to reach young people with accurate information about their sexuality,” said Reverend Phumzile Mabizela, Executive Director of INERELA+, in her closing speech to participants. “Open the doors so that young people can talk to you.”
Last week’s workshop compliments a series of events addressing the importance of religious leaders, parents and young people, who are all taking part in how we can better protect our young people through life-saving information and interventions.
The collective goal is to ensure that religious leaders, parents and young people are jointly engaging and championing comprehensive sexuality education. This enables young people to understand their sexual and reproductive health rights and link with services without fear of judgement.
“Investments in sexuality education in schools is not enough. We need to also engage with religious leaders, parents and the community at large,” concluded Dr. Patricia Machawira, Regional HIV and Health Education Advisor with UNESCO.
“This is a realisation we are serious about so that we can complement the work we are doing in schools. These meetings are just the beginning of what will be fruitful partnerships.”
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“This week has acted as a foundation for religious leaders. Only now have we begun to develop a positive language to reach young people with accurate information about their #sexuality. Open the doors so that young people can talk to you.” – Reverend Phumzile Mabizela, Executive Director of INERELA+
In religious communities, the issue of addressing sex and sexuality among children can often be taboo. Many religious leaders and communities have developed significant #stigma leading to a deafening silence around issues of #sexuality. We had a workshop with parents, religious leaders and young people in #Johannesburg to discuss how comprehensive sexuality education can be delivered through parents and religious groups. See more here! www.youngpeople.net/en/sensitization-and-capacity-building-on-comprehensive-sexuality-education-for-parents-and-religious-leaders-2 #religion #christian #muslim #sexualityeducation #HIVprevention #youngpeople[:]