Based on presentation delivered at the Advocacy for Comprehensive Sexuality Education meeting, October 2015, Washington D.C.
DEMySEX comprises more than 100 organizations from 20 different states in Mexico. To understand the specific strategies used, it is important to understand the context: while the Government of Mexico includes sexuality education within science and civic education, state governments have the right to modify the curriculum. In order to work effectively within this decentralized context, the initiative to implement an official CSE programme as a stand-alone subject on sexuality and gender required a collaborative effort between civil society and government actors.
This collaboration followed a series of steps, from establishing a collaborative team to scaling up the programme to other states in Mexico. These steps included:
Creating a technical team composed of DEMySEX staff and individuals from the public education system. Designing a programme proposal for one ‘Sexuality and Gender’ class per week during every week of the school year. Gaining the Ministry of Education’s support and confidence. Implementing the pilot phase of the programme, and rolling out training for teachers and technical team. Conducting the evaluation, and restructuring the programme according to gaps identified in evaluation, placing greater emphasis on human rights. The evaluation results provided evidence in support of the programme and helped to improve the content. Among the key results, eight out of ten adolescents who attended the Sexuality and Gender subject stated they were able to freely express their doubts and opinions related to sexuality. When compared with the control group, students who took the class were far more able to recognize their own sexual and reproductive rights and the rights of others – and 90 per cent of students affirmed that the subject has helped them in their everyday emotional, physical and social lives.
In addition, the parents of those students who took the subject recognized the importance of getting schools to address sexual education, and reported positive changes in their relationships with their children after completion of the class.
There are many aspects of this successful advocacy initiative that can be replicated in other contexts. Key success factors included gaining the commitment and support of the Ministry of Education, collaboration between NGOs that had the technical capacity to train government officials and teachers, and agreement between all stakeholders that joint initiatives and actions will ultimately benefit the heath, rights and well-being of adolescents and young people. Expanding the programme to other states in Mexico.
Author: JOSÉ ÁNGEL AGUILAR GIL, DEMOCRACIA Y SEXUALIDAD (DEMOCRACY AND SEXUALITY, OR DEMySEX)