Educating Young People on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Right
Young people are best positioned to represent the reality of the challenges they face and offer viable solutions – Allie Doody – PAI Senior international Advocacy Associate.
The cognizance of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, abbreviated as SRHR, cannot be overemphasized. Young people ache from varying health challenges relating to their sexual and reproductive health and this can be linked to the low level of sexual health knowledge and limited access to sexual and reproductive health information. Young people are biologically more prone to sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), and may have more than one sexual partner hence are more at risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs).
Many young people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly with a doctor or nurse about their sex lives and this is because conversations bordering sexual and reproductive health are viewed as private and not to be treated with openness, and this has halted progress in achieving health equity. Suppose we are to achieve the global goal of Good Health and well-being ( SDG 3 ). In that case, education in areas of sexual and reproductive health and right is critical in order to equip young people with the information and skills they need to protect their health and make informed choices and decisions about their reproductive health.
What is Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR)?
Good sexual and reproductive health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being in all matters relating to the reproductive system. It implies that people are able to have a satisfying and safe sex life, the capability to reproduce, and the freedom to decide if, when, and how often to do so. ( UNFPA 2022 – www.unfpa.org/sexual-reproductive-health ).
There exist inalienable privileges to be enjoyed by every individual in matters relating to their sexual and reproductive health. These are sexual and reproductive rights, and there are different human rights relating to sexuality and reproduction.
What are some existing sexual and reproductive rights?
Some of the sexual and reproductive rights include:
Right to healthcare and information
Everyone has the right to the best possible level of physical and mental health. This is known as the right to health. The right to health includes the provision of clean water, sanitation, food, nutrition, and a comprehensive healthcare system.
Right to informed consent
It is the right of every individual who is of reproductive age to decide if, when, and how they want to engage in sex. This implies that you are able to make full decisions on whether or not you want to have sex and nobody can cajole or force you to act against your will as this will act as a violation of your fundamental human right which is punishable by the law.
Right to reproductive choice – Family planning
Women have the freedom to choose whether or not to have children, as well as their preferred method of family planning and contraception, under the concept of the right to reproductive choice.
Right to confidentiality in relation to health services
One of the fundamental obligations of the medical profession is confidentiality. Health care professionals are required to keep a patient’s confidential health information private until the patient gives the approval to share the information. Thus, young people are free to discuss their sexual and reproductive health with medical specialists without other parties learning about it.
The right to non-discrimination in the allocation of resources to health services
Equality implies non-discrimination and discrimination is a violation of the right to equality. The allocation of reproductive health services and information should not be done with prejudices and stereotypes based on patriarchal notions of women’s sexual and reproductive roles and functions.
Furthermore promoting sexual and reproductive health and rights begins with personal responsibility. Every young person is responsible for safeguarding and advancing their sexual and reproductive health through behaviors that stop the transmission of diseases, improve access to accurate information, a desire to learn about reproductive rights, and health consciousness. Obligations go hand in hand with these rights.
What are the ways young people can promote their sexual and reproductive health?
Ways young people can promote their Sexual and Reproductive Health include:
- Timely access to healthcare
- The Use of contraception
- Limiting your number of sexual partners
- Getting tested for Sexually transmitted infections if you might have put yourself at risk
- Quit drinking and smoking
- Maintain a healthy lifestyle and consume healthy foods more regularly
The importance of educating young people on sexual and reproductive health and rights
Some of the importance of educating young people on sexual and reproductive health and right are :
- It reduces the mortality rate by limiting the transmission of sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
- It keeps young people informed to make decisions that affect them
- It promotes health equity
- It helps to build a voice around harmful sexual practices that is detrimental to their sexual and reproductive health
- SRHR education enhances the quality of sexual and reproductive life
- SRHR education improves the health status of individuals, families, communities, states, and the nation
Misconceptions about educating young people on sexual and reproductive health and rights
It is erroneously believed that increased education in sexual and reproductive health and rights can lead to a commensurate increase in sexual engagement by young people. Education on sexual and reproductive health does not lead to increased sexual activity but places young people in a unique position to actually make safe and informed decisions that promote their quality of life and their sexual and reproductive health.
In conclusion, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is a crucial part of life. Whether sexually active or not, It is critical to recognize the impact of engaging young people in SRHR can have on empowering them to become confident in their health and life in general and this, in turn, will lead to better SRHR outcomes.
Written by Eric Andrew