(Women's Month Special #WomensMonth2022)
by Kevin de Vera
March 31, 2022
Why does sexuality education matter? A question I raised before our beloved educators in Tabaco City. We may all agree that sex education matters to our young learners' lives and their development, individually, we have our own reservations - one among the many lessons I learned in my recent engagement with teachers.
Abstinence... a message most educators would deliver to young learners. While abstinence can probably be the best way to prevent unwanted pregnancies and transmissions of sexually transmissible infections, I would argue that it is not a skill a person need if we talk about a person's lifetime.
If there are 180 pregnancies every day, 20 are teenage girls. If there are 8 mothers dying because of maternal complications, 2-3 of them are teenage girls. Unplanned pregnancies have socio-economic implications for one's family, and for teenage girls, it can even cost them the future ahead of them, or their lives.
Women's month celebration to me is a movement. While we celebrate our small wins to advance the well-being of women and girls, we need to further the discourses on ensuring political and social systems work for them.
All teachers in the hall agreed that as a society we all play a big role in ensuring a better future for our young learners. One teacher shared that the schools, teachers, and parents can come together to give safe spaces to young people to develop life skills to ensure young ones' sexual and reproductive health right is upheld. One teacher expressed that to be able to realize this, they need more materials and training.
The commitment is there, and the gaps in upholding adolescent sexual and reproductive health are clear - to fulfill the promise of the Reproductive Health Law, we need comprehensive sexuality education to be rolled out now. To be able to do this, we need our government to invest in our teachers' training, reference materials, and other opportunities to get the whole of the community on board to address sexual and reproductive health issues and concerns.
Why does sexuality matter? Because we need to protect the future of our young learners, that they reach their optimum potential, free from any ill health and ill-being. Because it is a right all individuals are entitled to access to correct, appropriate and lifesaving information in all aspects of our reproductive and sexual health.
Young learners, girls and boys, need to know more about their sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, rights and benefits under the Reproductive Health Law, family planning methods, ways to prevent STIs and HIV, and most importantly, ways to ensure their bright future from the knowledge and skills they can develop from sexuality education.
One of the many wishes I have for the 2022 Women's Month Celebration is to see Comprehensive Sexuality Education happen in the Philippines.
(Special thanks to DepEd Tabaco City Division Office, The Forum for Family Planning and Development, and AIDS Healthcare Foundation)