Education for sexuality

Education for sexuality
Ensure the effective implementation from early childhood of comprehensive sexuality education programmes, recognizing the emotional dimension of human relationships, with respect for the evolving capacity of boys and girls and the informed decisions of adolescents and young people regarding their sexuality, from a participatory, intercultural, gender-sensitive, and human rights perspective.
Priority measure number


The description of this priority measure contains a number of qualifiers that cannot be taken for granted (for example, “recognizing the emotional dimension of human relationships, from early childhood, with respect for the evolving capacity of boys and girls and the informed decisions of adolescents and young people regarding their sexuality, from a participatory, intercultural, gender-sensitive, and human rights perspective”) and are difficult to evaluate in detail (i.e. by establishment), which is why indicator 1 takes a general approach that would require further discussion in order to put it into practice. Tentative indicators 2 and 3 would have to be disaggregated by age, considering children’s evolving capacities and progressive autonomy, by gender and by variables capturing social and gender inequality.

International standards in this area refer to the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education, prepared by UNESCO, UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), UNFPA and the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS) (see [online]

The Ministerial Declaration “Preventing through Education” contains specific targets with respect to comprehensive sexuality education, which could be incorporated into this guide. These are the following: (i) by 2015, reduce by 75% the gap in the number of schools under the jurisdiction of the education ministries that are not providing comprehensive sexuality education. (ii) by 2015, reduce by 50% the gap in the number of adolescents and young people without coverage by health services that appropriately address their sexual and reproductive health needs. There is no permanent institutional arrangement, nor any official follow-up mandate, nor even any baseline for monitoring the Declaration. Nevertheless, the International Planned Parenthood Federation/Western hemisphere Region (IPPF/WHR), the Democracy and Sexuality Network (Demysex), the Mesoamerican Coalition for Comprehensive Sexuality Education and the member associations of IPPF/WHR publish regular reports on progress in fulfilling the commitments assumed in the Declaration (see [online]

Possible lines of action

1. Review and share national experience in the provision of comprehensive sexuality education. 2. Regulate and finance the provision of comprehensive sexuality education in schools. 3. Review curricula to ensure the inclusion of comprehensive sexual education in schools. 4. Train teachers and facilitators for comprehensive sexuality education activities. 5. Prepare evidence-based and human-rights-based teaching materials for comprehensive sex education, including the definitions of sexual and reproductive rights agreed upon in the Montevideo Consensus on Population and Development and the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development. 6. Implement information and awareness-raising programmes on sexual and reproductive health, including inter-institutional programmes of comprehensive sexuality education involving ministries of health and education and campaigns targeted at adults, in particular fathers and mothers, on the emerging symbolic and behavioural patterns relating to sexuality among the new generations. 7. Establish mechanisms for technical support to schools and other institutions, including health-care establishments, as appropriate, for providing comprehensive sexuality education, as well as guidance on sexual and reproductive matters. 8. Establish opportunities for adolescents and young people to participate in all phases relating to the delivery of comprehensive sexuality education. 9. Structure systems for regular evaluation of comprehensive sexuality education programmes and adapt them to the needs of the target population and to sociocultural changes. 10. Promote comprehensive sexuality education programmes for children and adolescents not in the education system, though health-care establishments or in other forums.

Related instruments, forums and mechanisms

Ministerial Declaration “Preventing through Education”, signed in Mexico 2008.

Ibero-American Convention on the Rights of Youth, article 23 (“Right to sexual education”).

Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 34 of which relates to this topic.

Girls, boys, adolescents and youth