Planning and Support Tool for Empowering Approaches to SRHR Education with Young People

Planning and Support Tool for Empowering Approaches to SRHR Education with Young People

Stop Aids Now! Planning & Support Tool

Evidence and Rights-based Planning and Support Tool for Empowering Approaches to SRHR Education with Young People

STOP AIDS NOW! and Rutgers asked me to revise their Planning and Support Tool, which they had first published in 2009.

This involved a good deal of research, consultation and writing, to bring the document into line with the agencies’ changing approaches and to respond to users’ requests.

Download the 2016 PDF (2.2Mb).


This tool is designed to assist organisations that want to promote young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) and to empower them to enjoy their (sexual) development, relationships, attain their rights and have a greater sense of wellbeing. It focuses mainly on the strategy of SRHR education, also known as (comprehensive) sexuality education.

To improve young people’s quality of life and (sexual) health we need effective programmes, but developing and implementing them is not easy. However, experience and evidence gained from work all over the world shows what contributes to effectiveness and what doesn’t. This tool summarises the most important evidence in a logical and easy to use way (much of it comes from research by Kirby and colleagues into HIV and sexuality education programmes around the world). It aims to help organisations to take well-informed decisions about the planning, development, implementation and evaluation of SRHR programmes, and to modify their work as needed. The outcome of using the tool should be more effective interventions which are empowering and rights- and evidence-based.

You can use the tool to analyse existing interventions, in order to identify what is already going well and what needs improvement. You can also use it to assist with designing new interventions.

Users have used the tool for various purposes:
• Analysing existing SRHR education programmes
• Designing of new SRHR education programmes
• As a framework to guide discussion with donor organisations
• Capacity building and improvement of their projects or programmes
• Documenting intervention planning afterwards
• Modifying an existing intervention to use in a different context
• Assessing project proposals
• For defining advocacy strategies
• Linking and learning between different organisations

However, this framework should not oblige you to implement programmes completely according to the tool; the particular context, implementation setting or mandate of your organisation may require choices that are not in line with the tool.

You can use the tool to analyse or plan a variety of SRHR interventions, for example: school based and out-of-school interventions; large and small projects; with different SRHR focuses; targeting children, younger or older people; for orphans and vulnerable children; or for young people who are at work.

DOWNLOAD the full 2016 PDF.

The Big Picture: A guide for implementing HIV prevention that empowers women and girls

The Big Picture - Implementing HIV prevention

The Big Picture - A guide for Implementing HIV prevention that empowers women and girlsThe Big Picture: A guide for implementing HIV prevention that empowers women and girls

From 2006 to 2010 STOP AIDS NOW! supported an innovative project in Kenya and Indonesia which gave equal weight to HIV prevention, gender equity and human rights. At the end of the project they asked me to set out the theory and practice of their partners’ efforts in a ‘how to’ guide. This is the result, which I co-authored with the project’s manager, Jennifer Bushee.

This guide will be particularly interesting for people working at community level who want to address the structural factors behind the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV.



This guide provides ‘how-to’ information for developing a ‘transformative approach’ to HIV prevention for women and girls. Such an approach addresses key root causes of vulnerability to HIV and seeks to reshape the beliefs, attitudes and behaviours of individuals and communities in favour of women and girls and gender equality. It also aims to empower women and girls to protect themselves from HIV infection and from the negative impact of living with HIV.

It sets out the rationale for working on HIV prevention using a transformative approach. It also shares experiences and promising practices from the Gender Development Project. It then provides 5 steps based on these for developing HIV prevention work aimed at reducing the HIV risk of women and girl through promotion of gender equality and women’s rights.

This guide will be particularly interesting for people working at community level who want to address the structural factors behind the vulnerability of women and girls to HIV.

We note that the advice in this guide is not fixed and definite; please read it as providing suggestions based on the experiences of the partners in the Gender Development Project. The advice should be adapted to fit local needs and the relevant social, political and cultural context.

We also note that this guide is not comprehensive and is not written to support the development of a whole project cycle. It gives guidance about how to think from a ‘gender transformative’ perspective, but it does not, for example, give step-by-step instructions for doing a needs assessment.

Finally, we note that this guide encourages readers to think differently about how to respond to HIV, using a holistic perspective, the so-called ‘big picture’. This approach gives you wider scope for doing HIV prevention work. It allows you to integrate HIV prevention in other work on gender and rights. It also allows you to respond more closely to the felt needs of girls and women. Crucially, the ‘big picture’ approach, over time, allows you to work in a ‘transformative’ way. This means it helps supports people to transform or change gender relations in ways that are beneficial to all, including—but by no means limited to—by reducing vulnerability to HIV transmission.

A Different Way: Young women, their sexual orientations and their sexual rights

Sexual Orientation and sexual rights

A different way - International Programme on SexualityA Different Way: Young women, their sexual orientations and their sexual rights

Rutgers WPF asked gay and straight young people from around the world about what information would help girls and young women who have questions about their sexual orientation.  I used their ideas and queries to write A Different Way, which was also translated into French as Vivre Sa Difference.



All around the world, people’s ideas of sex, love and marriage focus on men and women. But this is not the whole story! There are different ways to be, including relationships between women, and relationships between men. But there is not much information available to help young women find their way.

We have written this booklet for young women who:

  • may be feeling different;
  • want to know more;
  • have questions about their sexuality;
  • and want to do what is best for themselves.

We want to give young women information about different sexual orientations. We hope it will help them to understand the issues better, and to make good choices, particularly if they are feeling unsure. This booklet should also be useful for people who work with young women, such as teachers and health workers.

Our values

We believe in human rights. They are things which everyone should have. Among them are sexual rights. Everyone should be able to choose their sexual partner, to decide whether or not to have sex, and be free to try and have a satisfying and safe sexual life.

Too often these sexual rights are abused. For example, young women are forced or pressurised into having sex, or required to marry a certain man. The situation is usually worse for women who are attracted to other women.

Sometimes information can help. In many cultures young people get a confusing mix of messages from films, magazines, friends, family members, and religious leaders. Some of this information is incorrect. Some of it is used to try and control them. Many adults think telling young people information about sex will lead to them having sex. This is not true! Many studies have shown that getting information about sex and healthy relationships helps young people to make better decisions.

What’s in this booklet

Chapter 2 is about sex and healthy relationships. It should be useful to all young women.

Chapter 3 explains what gender identity is, and outlines the different kinds of attraction or sexual orientation that are normal for humans.

Chapter 4 has a lot of questions and answers about women who are attracted to other women. They should be interesting to young people in general, and particularly to young women who are trying to figure out their sexual orientation.

Break Another Silence: Understanding Sexual Minorities and Taking Action for Sexual Rights in Africa

understanding sexual minorities in Africa

Sexual Minorities and rights in AfricaBreak Another Silence: Understanding Sexual Minorities and Taking Action for Sexual Rights in Africa

This booklet is about marginalised sexualities and human rights and is also available in French.

In a context of widespread homophobia and misinformation, it aims to give Oxfam’s and other NGOs’ staff both facts and food for thought about alternative sexualities.  It’s written for people working in civil society and government organisations, with a focus on Africa, particularly the Horn, East, and Central Africa.



The idea for this booklet came from an HIV and AIDS forum, held in the Horn, East & Central Africa region, for Civil Society Organisation (CSO) staff working on HIV. The forum focussed on learning about linkages between gender, HIV & AIDS, and sexual rights. Two East African activists from a sexual minorities network spoke about how badly sexual minorities are treated, the violence and discrimination they experience, and the difficulties they face in accessing HIV and AIDS prevention, treatment & care services. Their testimonials stirred the participants’ interest. Some felt that they needed to know more. Many were surprised; they were working on HIV, and yet had not given much thought to sexual minorities. Some, perhaps, felt negative towards the two activists, a common reaction in African cultural settings. Others wondered how they and their organisations might support sexual minorities to claim their rights.

This booklet is to encourage staff in civil society and government organisations to: understand sexual rights as human rights; to become aware of the ongoing abuses of sexual minorities’ human rights including lack of access to essential services; and to take action to protect rights for all, including minority groups.

Chapter 1 focuses on basic information and key debates. Chapter 2 looks at reactions to sexual minorities and their sexual rights. The linkage between sexual minorities, human rights and HIV programming is explored in Chapter 3, while Chapter 4 deals with why most NGOs have been silent on the issue. The concluding chapter suggests ways to break that silence.

Briser un Autre Silence: Comprendre les minorités sexuelles et mener des actions en défense de leurs droits sexuels en Afrique

Sexualité, homosexualité

Sexualité, homosexualité Briser un Autre Silence: Comprendre les minorités sexuelles et mener des actions en défense de leurs droits sexuels en Afrique

Cette brochure traite des sexualités marginalisées et des droits de l’homme et a été écrite en anglais.

Dans le contexte de l’homophobie généralisée et de la désinformation, il vise à donner au personnel d’Oxfam et d’autres ONG à la fois des faits et des éléments de réflexion sur les sexualités alternatives. Il est écrit pour les personnes travaillant dans la société civile et les organisations gouvernementales, en mettant l’accent sur l’Afrique, en particulier la Corne, l’Afrique de l’Est et l’Afrique centrale.

(The French translation of Break Another Silence)



L’idée à l’origine de ce livret est venue d’un forum sur le VIH et le SIDA tenu dans la région de la Corne, l’Est et le Centre de l’Afrique à l’intention du personnel des Organisations de la Société Civile (OSC) travaillant sur le VIH. Le forum portait sur l’apprentissage au sujet des liens existant entre : Genre, VIH, SIDA et droits sexuels. Deux activistes est-africains provenant d’un réseau de minorités sexuelles se sont exprimés au sujet de la manière dont les minorités sexuelles sont maltraitées. Ils ont parlé de la violence et de la discrimination que ces minorités subissent et des difficultés auxquelles elles font face pour accéder aux services de prévention du VIH et du SIDA, de traitement et de prise en charge. Leurs témoignages ont suscité l’intérêt des participants. Certains ont eu le sentiment qu’ils avaient besoin d’apprendre davantage. Certains d’entre eux étaient étonnés ; ils travaillaient sur le SIDA mais, hélas, ils n’avaient pas beaucoup pensé aux minorités sexuelles. Certains, peut-être, ont eu le sentiment de désapprouver les deux activistes; une réaction considérée comme ordinaire dans un contexte culturel africain. D’autres se demandaient comment eux-mêmes et leurs organisations pourraient aider les minorités sexuelles à revendiquer leurs droits.

Ce livret est destiné à encourager le personnel des organisations gouvernementales et de la société civile à : Comprendre les droits sexuels comme des droits humains ; Prendre conscience de l’abus des droits humains dont sont victimes au quotidien les minorités sexuelles, dont le manque d’accès aux services essentiels ; et entreprendre une action pour protéger les droits de tous, y compris pour les groupes minoritaires.

Le premier chapitre porte sur une information de base et sur les grands sujets de débats. Le chapitre 2 analyse les réactions courantes face aux minorités sexuelles et à leurs droits sexuels. Le lien entre minorités sexuelles, droits humains et programmation sur le VIH est explorée dans le chapitre 3, pendant que le chapitre 4 traite de la manière dont la plupart des ONG sont restées silencieuses sur la question. Le chapitre de conclusion suggère des voies de sortie pour briser ce silence.

Failing Women, Withholding Protection

HIV prevention with female condom

female condom to prevent HIV15 lost years in making the female condom accessible.

Oxfam Novib has been one of few organisations in the world investing in allowing the female condom to serve its purpose. I was fortunate to have the job of researching and writing this briefing paper for them.

They and the World Population Fund used it in their advocacy push at the 2008 International AIDS Conference. Find out more about their Universal Access to Female Condoms campaign here.



2008 marks 15 years since the female condom was invented, and, disgracefully, 15 years of failing to make them accessible to the women who need them. Despite the absence of any other female-initated form of protection, and unprecedented rises in funding for the response to HIV, female condoms remain inaccessible, and their contribution remains untapped.

The urgent need for access to female condoms is evident in the feminisation of the HIV pandemic, the large unmet need for contraception, and the pitiful progress towards meeting Millennium Development Goals 5 and 6 on maternal health and halting and reversing the spread of HIV.

Why provide female condoms, when male condoms are readily available, much cheaper, and provide a comparable level of protection?

  • Female condoms are a tool to assist women’s empowerment. Women who use female condoms report an increased sense of power for negotiation of safer sex, and a greater sense of control and safety during sex. It will be many years until women have any alternative femaleinitiated means of protecting themselves.
  • Providing both female and male condoms leads to more instances of protected sex and reductions in the incidence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Their additive effect, providing protection in instances which would not be protected by male condoms, makes them a costeffective form of HIV prevention.

Studies have repeatedly shown high levels of acceptability for female condoms. Some users prefer them over male condoms, as they offer more flexibility regarding the timing of putting them on and taking them off, and have a more natural feel. However, many donors and policy-makers remain sceptical that sufficient demand for them exists. Yet examination of femalecondom projects reveals significant demand, even though it is often deliberately suppressed and unintentionally undermined by stigmatisation and running out of stock. What is perceived as an issue of demand is actually one of supply. Expanding access to female condoms is held up not at the users’ end, but at the start of the chain: how much money donors and governments are willing to invest in buying female condoms, supporting female-condom programmes, and developing low-cost female condoms.

What is behind the failure to act comprehensively to create access to female condoms? Responses from donors and policy-makers to the female condom mirror the common reasons for not using a male condom: responses formed by ignorance, culture, denial, ‘poverty’, and conservatism. Added to this are overarching errors of a lack of leadership, a huge funding bias against existing forms of primary HIV prevention, failure to scale up programming, and failure to invest in strategies to lower the cost of female condoms.

Of course, some efforts have been been made in the past 15 years, which have accelerated since the launch of the United Nations Population Fund’s (UNFPA) global Female Condom Initiative in 2005. The rapid expansion of sales and free distribution in the few countries at the forefront of female condom programming demonstrates the massive unmet demand for female condoms. But there is so much more to be done. Worldwide, in 2007, roughly 423 male condoms were produced for just one female condom. Female condoms currently have a unit cost about 18 times higher than male condoms.

The levels of investment and programming needed to increase the choice of available female condoms, to lower prices and to expand production are highly feasible. Through collaborative action, donors, governments, civil society organisations and the private sector can begin the progress of achieving universal access to female condoms. Female condoms exist now, and concerted efforts to make them accessible must begin now.