Why is it important for you to be an SRHR activist?

I believe that young people’s awareness about their sexual and reproductive health and rights allows safe and healthy lives. Giving a voice to young people helps to create active and conscious citizens capable of standing up for their beliefs.

Why comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is important?

Comprehensive sexuality education is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to realize their health, well-being and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives. Too many young people receive confusing and conflicting information about relationships and sex, as they make the transition from childhood to adulthood. This has led to an increasing demand from young people for reliable information, which prepares them for a safe, productive and fulfilling life. When delivered well, CSE responds to this demand, empowering young people to make informed decisions about relationships and sexuality and navigate a world where gender-based violence, gender inequality, early and unintended pregnancies, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs) still pose serious risks to their health and well-being. Equally, a lack of high-quality, age- and developmentally-appropriate sexuality and relationship education may leave children and young people vulnerable to harmful sexual behaviors and sexual exploitation. CSE plays a crucial role in addressing the health and well-being of children and young people. Applying a learner-centered approach, CSE not only provides children and young people with age-appropriate and phased education on human rights, gender equality, relationships, reproduction, sexual behaviors risks and prevention of ill health, but also provides an opportunity to present sexuality with a positive approach, emphasizing values such as respect, inclusion, non-discrimination, equality, empathy, responsibility and...

“Summer School” Comprehensive Sex Education for a Promising Life” Vlorë, 2019

The Aulona center staff together with the volunteers organized a three-day summer school in May 2019 with the theme “Comprehensive Sex Education for a Promising Life!” at the Diamond Hill Hotel in Vlora. Twenty young people including youth from vulnerable groups received education on how to avoid risky behaviors, how to build healthy social and intimate relationships; how to think critically, how to take care of themselves; and where to get youth-friendly services for better health and a happier life. During the practice sessions the participants developed some plans for their lives. These plans included school enrollment; avoidance of early marriage; protection against unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections and HIV / AIDS; use of contraception, avoidance of drug or alcohol use,...

Breaking down taboos with each generation

High-school teacher Nevjana Muça of Tirana says it is getting easier to discuss sexuality education in schools. “In the past, I have asked students to discuss certain topics, and have had them reply that their fathers don’t allow them to talk about that. I don’t encounter those kinds of difficulties so much now, though taboos unfortunately still persist,” says Muça. “We emphasize to all parents, teachers and students that the more informed young people are when they start sexual relationships, the better and healthier these relationships will be, and the more responsible, mature and prepared these young people will be in life.” Oriana Osmani, a mother from Tirana, says she wanted her now 18-year-old daughter “to know as much as possible about sexuality education.” Even though it was awkward when her daughter was younger, she chose not to turn off the TV when a sexual scene came on in a movie, and instead tried to talk openly about what was being shown on screen. “I didn’t have any experience like that with my own mother, so it was difficult for me,” Osmani says. “I believe it will be easier for my daughter to talk to her children about sex when she becomes a parent.” The sexual and reproductive health lessons introduced at Marjo Rabiaj’s school in Ballsh inspired him to get trained as a peer educator himself. He volunteers for a youth organization that promotes youth issues, including healthy lifestyles, sexuality education and youth participation. “I love spreading the word among my peers that every young person has the right to live a healthy life and build a safe...

“Sexuality education without fear or shame for young people in Albania”

BALLSH, Albania – It’s not always easy talking to young people about sexual and reproductive health in the classroom. “Whenever a question about our bodies was raised in biology class, there was laughter and whispering; some students turned red and others giggled,” says Marjo Rabiaj, 17, of Ballsh, a small town in southern Albania. “So sometimes the lesson was not taught at all, because the teacher said we were too immature to discuss such topics. I was so curious and eager to learn but since these subjects were called ‘shameful,’ I couldn’t discuss them with anybody.” When Rabiaj and his girlfriend first had sexual intercourse, they did not use any method of contraception and they found themselves troubled by the experience. “We had lots of fear, doubt and uncertainty about whether it was right or wrong, what could we expect afterwards, what others would think if they found out,” he says. “We decided to keep it a secret and didn’t talk about it anymore. I never even asked her how she felt about having sex.” But one day, a teacher announced that Rabiaj’s school would be participating in a pilot programme to introduce comprehensive sexuality education in schools in Albania. The teacher had received special training on the subject, and had brought in two young people, trained peer educators from Tirana, to help. There was some laughing and blushing at first, Rabiaj recalls, “but soon we started to have several classes on topics that we never spoke about before. And all of our classmates started to feel more relaxed.” The teacher and the peer educators who came to Rabiaj’s...

Comprehensive sexuality education and youth empowerment

Albania has made remarkable progress in developing and implementing comprehensive sexuality education at pre-university level. A ‘Positioning Paper on Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Young People in Albania’ is approved in 2012 and from 2015 Comprehensive Sexuality Education started to be implemented in schools. However, the SE program has not been developed to reach out to the children/young people from key populations in informal settings. Many young key populations are not in school and are not reached by school-based programs. There is widespread opposition to school SE in the country. Parents, caregivers, community members and teachers as well see SE as a factor leading to “early” sex. They argue that it runs against the Albanian culture, that schools should promote moral values instead of implementing SE. They feel that SE might be okay for young people but not for children and young people at young ages Training of health-care providers should include a human rights based approach to addressing the needs of young persons from key populations. For example, one of the objectives of the MISP is reducing HIV transmission, and planning for comprehensive SRH care (integrated into primary health care where possible). Trainers can include information on young key populations into this topic in order to increase providers’ capacity to offer stigma-free, respectful services and make them aware of the issues facing young sex workers, young MSM, young people who inject drugs, etc In June 2017, UNFPA Albania launched the establishment of the “Media Platform on Sexual and Reproductive Health”. This initiative is creating a network of journalists that collaborate on issues pertaining to SRH, including gender-based violence/harmful practices...