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Enabling Environment for Sexuality Education to Deliver ‘Healthy’ Outcomes: Analysis of Policy and Gender norms in Uganda (Anna Ninsiima)

Monday, 6 May, 2019 - 12:30 to Monday, 6 May, 2019 - 14:00
Campus: Brussels Humanities, Sciences & Engineering campus
Pleinlaan 5
Research Seminar

Today's adolescents will determine the social fabric, economic productivity, and reproductive well-being of nations throughout the world in the coming decades. However, adolescents are confronted with life-threatening health risks related to unwanted pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV. In Uganda, statistics show that 54% of Ugandan girls have begun child-bearing by age 19 (UBOS 2016). It has been argued that Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) provides adolescents with information necessary to make safe and informed choices about their sexual health. This study, however, argues that CSE may not make sense if the environment into which young people live is not enabling.  The study contributes to the literature on the relevance of intersectionality to sexuality and health inequalities research. Intersectionality provides a strong analytical tool to understand health inequalities by moving the analysis away from the individual approaches to understanding the interaction of the macro and the micro aspects of the politics of adolescent sexual health. In Uganda, implementation of sexuality education policies was problematic, but poverty, gendered power relations and ineffective legal system reinforce the impediment for adolescents to live lives they find reason to value. The study argues that policy should support sexuality education, but this education can only be put to use in a better environment or enabling structures of cultural and political institutions. Adolescents should enjoy the freedom to do what they aspire to do and be free from coercion. Therefore, creating an enabling environment requires addressing an interplay of broad factors which quite often are beyond the individual in shaping adolescent sexual and reproductive health decisions and outcomes.