“Prior to learning about Comprehensive Sexuality Education, I had no clue that female condoms also existed. I used to be very shy to talk about my body and bodily changes in front of my family but now I do not feel shy or hesitate to talk about these issues. My goal is to ensure that every young person should have access to information about their body changes through comprehensive sexuality education but I am not sure that it has fulfilled completely. Young people have very less information about their changes in their bodies and some young people do not have any information. One of my friends asked me once – Do girls not menstruate before marriage? Because of all these myths and lack of knowledge every young person requires comprehensive sexuality education.” - Youth Leader, Male, 19 years, Jhansi.
“I used to feel very shy to talk about menstruation, condom, violence, reproductive health with at home but now I can talk about these issues with my mother very openly. I want to tell other people about these issues and want to talk about caste discrimination and discrimination with transgender, especially want to remove myths associated with them like we should not share food with transgender and they are scary.” - Youth Leader, Female, 19 years, Lucknow.
“Through trainings in Shareer Apna Adhikaar Apne, I have become more comfortable with my body, I was not able to talk to my mother about menstruation and ‘gupt ang’ before joining this campaign but now I am able to talk about it with my mother and any male doctor also.” - Youth Leader, Female, 21 years, Lucknow
‘Know Your Body, Know Your Rights’ (KYBKYR)/’Shareer Apna, Adhikaar Apne’ is a youth-led and -run national policy and peer education programme, founded in 2002. The programme builds young people’s technical capacities to access unbiased, evidence-based information on gender, sexuality, health and rights, enabling them to negotiate cultural and political barriers faced at both community and policy levels. The genesis of the programme emerged from the realization that for many young people, concepts of the self, body and identity lie at the centre of much confusion and that this is compounded by the uncertainty of their position in society and what their entitlements and roles in regards to issues of sexuality, health and gender are.
Young people face increasing pressures regarding their bodies, sexuality and health particularly by way of conflicting norms and messages. On the one hand society projects messages of sexuality as being negative associated with fear, guilt and disease, while on the other hand it is seen as positive or desirable by media and peer groups. The programme team at the concept stage itself felt that ensuring the Sexual and Reproductive Rights of young people is critical because it empowers young people to negotiate the vulnerabilities of violence, HIV, abuse, climate, gender inequality and poverty. It also enables a positive attitude towards relationships and improves the quality of health and life of young people. Our work with young people challenges the silences that exist in society around these issues.
In 2006, the programme expanded to begin working with young people from peri-urban and semi-rural areas, focusing on adolescents and young people living in at-risk contexts (street and slum children, young people living with HIV, young injecting drug users, children of female sex workers, young people living in BPL (below the povertyline) communities through peer to peer education and policy consultative processes. KYBKYR also strengthens platforms for young people to advocate with decision makers for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), through dialogue and monitoring and evaluation processes at local, state, national and international levels. This ensures that young people can effectively participate in policy processes and provide critical inputs that correspond with lived, community realities.
The programme addresses young people’s need for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and their increasing lack of access to information regarding their health and rights, through the following components:
A Peer Education Programme:
The programme trains an annual cohort of 30-40 young people as peer educators on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and HIV Prevention, who conduct peer-to-peer workshops in communities with 1,500 – 3,000 young people each year.
This is primarily based in two states, the National Capital Region and Uttar Pradesh (Jhansi and Lucknow).
In 2011, the programme began working in Lucknow and Jhansi districts in Uttar Pradesh on delivering sexual and reproductive health information to young people and adolescents as well as mobilizing them to demand for sexual and reproductive health information with key gatekeepers and stakeholders.
A National Capacity Building, Training of Trainers (ToT) Programme:
TYPF conducts ToT capacity building programmes with youth leaders, master trainers and community service providers from both our own programmes and also with partner networks and organizations, who are implementing CSE or Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS). The ToT focuses on sharing best practises, increasing access to and scaling the quality of implementation in youth led and run CSE and YFHS programmes. Watch videos where participants give feedback about such trainings in the past here.
Community Campaigns and Public Festivals:
In 2007, the programme hosted The Project 19 Festival, in partnership with the Center for Human Progress, one of India’s largest youth-led festivals for Sexuality Education that brought together 1500 young people from states in India to lobby with government officials and advance the need for CSE in India.
The festival used multiple performing arts and digital media platforms to highlight the role of stigma and discrimination and the cross-cutting role of class, caste, patriarchy, violence and punitive laws that inhibit young people from accessing information and services that India has committed to ensuring for its citizens through internationally binding agreements such as the International Conference on Population and Development in 1994 and the Beijing Platform for Action in 1995.
Voices of Young People on Chapters of Silence:
The programme’s approach has been highlighted extensively by technical agencies and in the media, covered by the United Nations Headquarters, USAID, Conversations For a Better World, the UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board Meeting in Geneva, French Media, Times of India, Hindustan Times, The Hindu, UNESCO, UNAIDS Inter Agency Task Team on Education, Community of Practitioners for Accountability and Social Action in Health, Americans for Informed Democracy and the Global Health Council to name a few instances.
Through varied partnerships and national level work, the programme has engaged 300 peer educators and 6000 youth leaders across 16 states in the last 12 years, conducted training of trainer programmes with more then 120 young leaders from 8 states and bought together over 200 young activists from across the country to share best practices and examine strategies to increase access to and scaling the quality of youth led and run Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly Health Services programmes. In two years (2011-2013), the programme worked with 1574 young people from in-school and out-of-school communities through workshops and on ground (offline) campaigns in both National Capital Region (NCR) and Uttar Pradesh. Across 2011-2013, the programme also conducted a national survey with 3,500 young people across 4 states (Goa, Chattisgarh, UP and Delhi) to document and build an evidence base of the ground realities with regard to lack of access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and health services.
The programme has developed a rigorous Monitoring and Evaluation frameowrk that allows us to track the knowledge, attitudes and practises of the young people that we work with. Some key highlights from the two states the programme works in are as follows, from data in the programme’s end-line survey across 2013 – 2014.
As a direct result of the peer education sessions, partner organizations responded to the SRH service needs that were highlighted from the workshops and structured referral services for participants accordingly. An example of the kind of referrals that were provided to young people was: