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Sex education provided knowledge about sex and harmony in the family

Since 2003, Danida has supported sex education in Vietnam targeting young people and their parents. It has been of great value for the families who have been helped, and the ideas behind the project have spread to the Ministries for Health and Education.

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In the clubs, work has been done to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies as well as to combat domestic violence, sexual violence and harassment.
Photo: Mikkel Dalum, DFPA

“We can talk much better with our children now. They can learn from us, and we can learn from them. When we got married, we didn’t know anything about sex – nothing. No one ever talked to us about it. Now, the meetings have prepared us so that we can discuss it with our children”, says Phan Mam, a 47-year-old fisher from Song Cau in the Phu Yen province.

Sex has been an absolutely taboo subject for many years in Vietnam, but in the last decade things have begun to loosen up in four project areas in North, Central and South Vietnam. The Danish Family Planning Association (DFPA) has, in cooperation with the organisation CGFED, conducted sex education courses in eight clubs, where young people are involved in both the planning and the conducting of the courses and other activities. The overall goal of the project is to build up knowledge and competences with regard to sexual and reproductive health for both the young people and their parents.

Work has been done in the clubs to prevent sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies, as well as to combat domestic violence, sexual violence and harassment.

When we got married, we didn’t know anything about sex – nothing. No one ever talked to us about it.
Photo: Mikkel Dalum, DFPA

“Before, we used to argue a whole lot. We never learned to just talk with our children – we have also learned to talk to each other. Now, there is more harmony in our family, and I am simply more happy and secure. Yeah, in the whole village spousal violence has actually disappeared”, says 45-year-old Nguyen Thi Hoa.

An important criterion for success has been making the project sustainable. The clubs have been given local ownership, and 72 new clubs have been set up to ensure that the sex education courses are available to even more young people. Both the Vietnamese Ministries for Health and for Education have been involved in the project, and the positive interaction with both these government departments may help to create a starting point for mainstreaming sex education.

Three tough questions: Answers from Tania Dethlefsen, International Director, Danish Family Planning Association

1. Why are sexual and reproductive health and rights important?

Because the right for women and men to decide for themselves about their own bodies and to be able to decide for themselves how many children they want and when they want to have them is absolutely crucial both for combating poverty and for ensuring basic human rights for the world’s poor.

2. What are the biggest results you have achieved stemming from Danida-supported projects in 2012?

In 2012 the DFPA has, together with the southern partners in East Africa and South Asia, trained and mobilised 37,742 women to seek out health services themselves and to make the government authorities responsible for assaults and insufficient appropriations. In Vietnam, the DFPA has, together with its partner CGFED, achieved, from 2007 to 2012, an overall result in 2012 of providing sex education to 42,072 young people and their parents.

3. What are going to be the greatest challenges in the field of sexual and reproductive health and rights in the coming years?

The greatest challenge at the global level is to ensure that SRSR is strongly represented in the new post-MDG goals – so that the future political and economic prioritisations are ensured. It won’t be easy because, from a global perspective, SRSR is one of the most controversial topics, a topic on which countries are greatly divided. Denmark is in the vanguard of this fight – fortunately, both the current and the previous governments have given it a high priority. At the DFPA we have also thrown a lot of resources into this – and have worked together with our many international networks and our southern partners in order to apply pressure.

The DFPA has contributed this case. Thus, the case and the information provided do not necessarily represent the opinions of Danida or of Denmark.