– Testimony – Agathe Blanc, Program Officer, Association of Women Lawyers of Côte d’Ivoire (Association Femmes Juristes de Côte d’Ivoire)
« Through comprehensive sexuality education, we prepare adolescents and youth for a more secure future by giving them tools to better manage their romantic, family, and social relationships. »
What role does Alliance Droits et Santé play in advocating for sexuality education in Côte d’Ivoire ?
We are very involved in this work through several different projects. As part of Educasso, a project coordinated by the NGO RAES and implemented in Côte d’Ivoire by the NGO MESSI and the Association of Women Lawyers, we have been working since 2018 to mainstream sexuality education in school programs. A regional public relations campaign produced by the Alliance, #JeVeuxSavoir, also supports this dynamic by mobilizing others to support our policy demands.
What has this advocacy achieved ?
Much prejudice surrounds comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), especially in religious spheres. Religious and customary authorities may be reluctant to integrate CSE into school programs. Often their reluctance stems from a lack of information about what sexuality education really covers. As part of our information and awareness activities, we have succeeded in meeting with leaders of Christian and Muslim religious organizations. We were able to discuss their prejudices and share our research findings. With support from UNESCO, we also talked about Côte d’Ivoire’s content guidelines and priorities for comprehensive sexuality education. Through these meetings, participants recognized the need for sexuality education in schools and within families. They even became stakeholders in expanding sexuality education, working with our partners to develop a guide for parent-child communication about sexuality in religious settings.
How does your organization collaborate with Equipop ?
Equipop’s support has had a positive effect on our advocacy strategy. Alliance Droits et Santé members and others involved in this work have taken part in advocacy training with Equipop. This group work allowed us to define a shared advocacy plan for mainstreaming CSE into school programs. Equipop then helped us to define our priority advocacy objective: mainstream CSE into new teacher training curricula. We also benefited from Equipop’s support when formulating messages for our priority targets – the ministers of health, national education, and women – messages that we also disseminated via social media.