Based on presentation delivered at the Advocacy for Comprehensive Sexuality Education meeting, October 2015, Washington D.C.
Along with an adaptable advocacy strategy for changing legislation in Bulgaria, vital elements included the involvement of key stakeholders across multiple sectors, unified messaging and a good flow of communication between all partners, and a clear vision for the desired end result. These efforts resulted in making sexuality education accessible to all young people in the Bulgarian school system. They brought to fruition commitments made in national strategy documents and such legislation as the Health Act, the National Programme for Prevention and Control of HIV and STIs; and the National Programme for Sexual and Reproductive Health – which has not yet been officially endorsed.
The initiative adopted a multi-sectoral approach, bringing together the Ministry of Education and Science, the Ministry of Health, and the Ministry of Youth and Sport, as well as the Parliamentarian Commissions on education and health. This coordinated effort also united a broad range of local and national non-governmental organizations (NGOs), youth clubs and parents’ associations, as well as more than 200 pilot schools, students and peer educators, and United Nations agencies including UNICEF, UNAIDS and UNFPA.
The key to success was the use of multiple and diverse series of advocacy actions, including consensus-building meetings between the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Education and other stakeholders. The partners also engaged in round tables and expert meetings, developed advocacy letters and petitions to the Ministry of Education and key political parties, and organized hearings at parliament. All of these actions contributed to a successful outcome: the establishment of standards for Civil, Health and Intercultural Education, included in legislation on pre-school and school education and adopted by parliament in September 2015.
Authors: Ms. ANINA CHILEVA, NATIONAL CENTER FOR PUBLIC HEALTH AND ANALYSES AND PETER MLADENOV, BULGARIAN MINISTRY OF YOUTH AND SPORT