Young people aged 10 to 24 constitute around 32% of Sub-Saharan Africa's population. Yet, they face significant barriers when it comes to realising their sexual and reproductive health and rights, with high rates of school dropout, new HIV infections, gender-based violence, and early and unintended pregnancies.
Providing comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to young people has multiple, far-reaching benefits. Young people who receive CSE feel more confident in protecting themselves from HIV and feel supported to make healthier choices like using condoms regularly or having fewer sexual partners. CSE also builds young people’s understanding of important concepts like love, respect, and consent, giving them the tools to recognise and address abuse and coercion.
Despite this, young people’s access to CSE is currently under threat. Well-funded organisations are collaborating to spread disinformation about CSE and actively pressuring governments to stop providing lifesaving information to young people.
Against this backdrop, Y+ Global has launched the “Youth Voices for Comprehensive Sexuality Education" (YV4CSE) Project). Under this project, Y+ Global is working closely with Frontline AIDS and Act Ubumbano to establish a new consortium. This consortium will act as an important catalyst, seeking to foster more positive narratives around CSE and generate change at a community level. Focusing on Cameroon and Tanzania, this initiative aims to:
- Collect data on young people's experiences and perspectives on CSE;
- Develop key advocacy messages which advocates can use to champion CSE within their own communities;
- Enhance the capacity of young people to campaign more effectively for CSE;
- Invest in youth-led initiatives and campaigns that support and champion CSE;
The virtual kick-off meeting for the project was held on 13 December, with over 80 youth advocates from across the region joining.
“Too many young people are receiving confusing and conflicting information about puberty, relationships, love and sex as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. CSE helps address questions about sexuality with a positive approach, emphasising values such as respect, inclusion, non-discrimination, equality, and empathy and reinforcing healthy and positive values about bodies, puberty, relationships, sex and family life”
Tung DoanSenior Advisor for Programme Management at Y+ Global
At the meeting, partners and advocates underscored CSE’s pivotal role in empowering young people to make informed life choices. Participants also highlighted the persistent challenges they face in accessing CSE and the opposition they are encountering.
“We are committed to amplifying the voices of young people, turning their vision of CSE into a tangible reality. The pivotal role played by our amazing country partners, including HOVUCA in Cameroon and NYP+ in Tanzania, highlights the importance of youth voices and the important role they have to play in ensuring access to quality, evidence-based, age-appropriate CSE.”
Clare MorrisonSenior Advisor: HIV Prevention Advocacy, Frontline AIDS
The meeting closed with plans for future collaboration, including a regional capacity-building workshop and community-level dialogues. The consortium has also established a Youth Advisory Group to guide the project’s implementation in Cameroon, Tanzania, and beyond, signalling a shared commitment to addressing the needs of young people worldwide.