Let's Talk About Sex: Celebrating Honest and Open Conversation on World Contraception Day

Youth should be a time for learning, discovery, and growth. Unfortunately, in many parts of the world, it can also be a time when young people are denied access to the information they may need most—information about their bodies.

Today, on World Contraception Day, we are reminded of the need for an honest and open conversation about sexuality, contraception, and our ability and obligation to help amplify that conversation around the globe.

We champion youth-friendly services because there are already far too many barriers to contraception around the world. Age shouldn't be one of them. Neither should access to information.

Over the last month, we at Pathfinder asked our staff, friends, and supporters to share their stories of how they first learned about the birds and the bees. Some of our favorites are shown in the slideshow above. Although many of these stories are funny or cute, they reflect a stark reality: that most young people don't have the information they need about sex and contraception to make informed decisions and live healthy lives. Sexuality and contraception continue to be taboo topics in communities in both the developed and developing world. Oftentimes, young people's primary source of information is a family member or a friend who, speaking in a hushed voice, may not always share the most accurate information.

Sexual education is more than just important. It can be life altering. Access to accurate information, youth-friendly health services, and supportive mentors can mean the difference between graduation and an early pregnancy.

Our work is about improving the experience and lives of girls like Almaz. An 18-year-old young woman living in southern Ethiopia, Almaz heard from her friends that there was a way she could prevent pregnancy. She only needed to visit her local clinic. But when Almaz arrived at the clinic early one morning, her presence was met with judgmental stares and whispers. An older woman even asked Almaz why she had come since the clinic's services were only intended for older women with children.

"I was embarrassed and immediately left the clinic," Almaz said. "I don't know what to do or where to go and get the method to protect myself from unwanted pregnancy. I even get frightened that I could end up with the same situation like my friends."

Almaz's story is far too common, but Pathfinder is working to change that with initiatives like the Integrated Family Health Program (IFHP) in Ethiopia. Since the project's launch, young people like Almaz have made more than 1.5 million visits to 163 youth-friendly facilities established by Pathfinder and our partners.

We champion youth-friendly services like those provided under IFHP because there are already far too many barriers to contraception around the world. Age shouldn't be one of them. Neither should access to information.

It's time for a frank and open conversation about sexual health, rights, and contraception. Help us keep the conversation alive and well by asking questions, sharing resources, being a mentor, or by sounding off on Twitter or Facebook.

In spirit of World Contraception Day, we've rounded up a few of our favorite resources on sexual education. Please share your experience—tell us how you first learned about the birds and the bees—in the comments!

five sexual education resources on world contraception day:

Candace Lew

Candace Lew

Candace Lew is Pathfinder International’s Senior Technical Advisor for Contraception.

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Eileen September 27, 2013
I am glad to know about the great work you are doing with your team at Pathfinder International. I have been in touch with the activities of Pathfinder International for a long time now. The sacrifices that have been made to better to lives of many underprivileged individuals can not be quantified. I hope to be part of these great work with this organization someday. God bless you.
Ajuzie, Henry September 27, 2013
Thank you so much for giving Almaz a graduation date. Another major concern in all countries across the world but majorly in developing country is the great disparity in provision of health care including contraceptive methods. Creating awareness especially in my home country(Kenya) is not a hindrance, the major debacle is accessibility of the services due to the high levels of marginalization and good policies on paper but poor implementation. Thank you for the good work.
Bonnie September 26, 2013
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