Understanding gender roles and sexuality in Africa ( Sex Ed: part 2)

Most of the sexual and or sexuality related conflicts we face today originated from the general misconception of the topic of discussion “sex”.

Introduction

Nigeria:

Ancient theories and ideologies about sexuality, circled around the power of
dreams, the individual as a sexual being, the power of self cultivation and
processes of essentialism.
Although the concept of sexuality can be dated back to our ancestors, who laid
much emphasis on the care of self and the act of procreation, emerging
population and health concerns have led to the re-thinking and re-identification of
the relationship between sexuality and human activity and behaviour.
Invariably, the concept of sexuality has undergone many changes within the past
forty years. The emergence of the sexual revolution has also impacted greatly on
sexual orientations, patriarchy, sexual relations, family formations and
reproduction.
In recent times, the youth who constitute ages 10-24 and 36.7 per cent of the
Nigerian population, are found to be highly vulnerable to antisocial behaviours
such as violent crimes, unsafe sexual activities and drug abuse among others.
The Nigerian Association for the Promotion of Adolescent Health and
Development, (NAPAHD) has also alerted that, an hospital based research has
shown that, 80 per cent of patients with abortion complications are adolescents.
This assertion was based on the fact that, over 16 per cent of teenage females
reported first sexual intercourse by age 15 while 8.3 per cent of boys of age 15
have also had their first encounters. This adolescents’ health dilemma has been
attributed to their great lack of information and knowledge about the implications
of their population behaviour on their sexual health and the general welfare of the
nation. In this vain the introduction and institutionalisation of sexuality education
became one of the immediate efforts made to address this problem to create
awareness about these sexually based problems. The rational was to acquaint
the youth with factual and accurate sexual information about the dimensions of
sexual knowledge that will enable them understand and clarify their personal
values, improve their sexual knowledge and sexual decision–making and
promote their knowledge about how all these interact with socio-cultural and
religious factors to affect personal well-being. This set of values sexuality
education was set to promote perhaps form part of the motivation for its
introduction into the Nigerian educational system. However, in view of the
predicament suffered by similar intervention packages such as
Population/Family-life Education it is relevant to examine the potentials for
success and failure of this nascent subject.
With this backdrop, this paper will examine the origin of the concept of sexuality
education, how it evolved in Nigeria and how well it is fairing in Nigeria. In doing
this, the paper will highlight on some conceptual perspectives of sexuality
education, identify its definition, its content and structure. The prospects and
challenges of sexuality education in Nigeria today will also be identified by
looking into the relationship between sexuality and; society and culture, socio-
economic status, ethics, communication, information, gender and the media.

Kenya:

Timely provision of accurate and comprehensive information and life skills training regarding sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) is essential for adolescents to achieve sexual health and rights and avoid negative health outcomes. While sexuality education is just one component in a multifaceted approach to address, and ultimately improve, the sexual and reproductive lives of young people, it provides a structured opportunity for adolescents to gain knowledge and skills, to explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the decision making and other life skills necessary for making healthy informed choices about their sexual lives.

Abstinence-only education programs have shown little evidence of improving sexual and reproductive health (SRH) outcomes. In contrast, comprehensive sexuality education programs that recognize sexual activity during adolescence as normative behavior, that seek to ensure the safety of such behavior, and that focus on human rights, gender equality and empowerment have demonstrated impact in several areas: improving knowledge, self-confidence and self-esteem; positively changing attitudes and gender and social norms; strengthening decision-making and communication skills and building self-efficacy; and increasing the use of condoms and other contraceptives.

Adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health

Addressing the high levels of unprotected sexual activity, STIs (including HIV infection), early pregnancy and abortion among adolescents is a priority for program planners and policymakers in Kenya.
Despite efforts targeting these reproductive health issues, recent studies indicate a persistently high need for SRH information and services, further emphasizing the need for high-quality sexuality education.

Sexual activity

Nationally, more than a third of adolescents (those aged 15–19), whether married or not, have had sexual intercourse (37% of females and 41% of males), and about one-fifth are currently sexually active.

The median age at first intercourse is 18 for females and 17 for males, yet among 15–19-year-olds, 11% and 20% of each gender, respectively, initiated sex before age 15. In the three geographic areas included in the current study, adolescents living in Homa Bay county were more likely to initiate sex at an early age (24% of females and 39% of males) than were those living in Mombasa (6% and 26%, respectively) or Nairobi county (10% and 17%, respectively).


I’m working on a project to help create awareness for SRE, understanding sexuality and gender roles which will be premiering here on “maggy’s thoughts” so buckle up and stay tuned.

Yours truly