Repeated evaluations have demonstrated that comprehensive sexuality education does not foster earlier sexual debut or unsafe sexual activity. By contrast, programmes that teach only abstinence have not proved to be effective. Additionally, recent research demonstrates that gender norms are a “gateway factor” for a range of adolescent health outcomes. Comprehensive sexuality education curricula that emphasize critical thinking about gender and power – the empowerment approach – are far more effective than conventional “gender-blind” programmes at reducing rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended early pregnancy. These studies also indicate that young people who adopt more egalitarian attitudes about gender roles, compared to their peers, are more likely to delay sexual debut, use condoms and practise contraception. They are also less likely to be in relationships characterized by violence.
This report, The Evaluation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education Programmes: A Focus on the Gender and Empowerment Outcomes, represents an important milestone in our understanding of advances in the field of comprehensive sexuality education evaluation. It offers an extensive review and analysis of a wide range of evaluation studies of different comprehensive sexuality education programmes, at different stages of development and from different contexts and setting across the globe. It enriches our knowledge of new methodologies, available questionnaires and instruments that can be applied in future assessments and evaluations, most particularly to measure the gender empowerment outcome of comprehensive sexuality education programmes. It addresses the adaptation of the methodology to various contexts and age-specific groups of young people and children. This report is co-sponsored by UNFPA, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the World Health Organization and the International Planned Parenthood Federation.