good practices in building life skills with youth and adolescents

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good practices in building life skills with youth and adolescents
Project: “Men and women working together for sexual rights exercised from a gender perspective”
The following component of the project is proposed as a good practice: Youth Network for health and sexual rights
Contact person
Marisol Alfonso de Armas, UNFPA Cuba
Latin America and the Caribbean / Cuba
Thematic area
Youth participation in promoting sexual and reproductive rights
Primary keywords
Sexual rights, gender perspective, Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) promotion, youth
To update and implement the National Sexual Health Education Programme (PRONESS), including strengthening the institutions involved
and civil society participation.
To strengthen the role of the Youth Network for health and sexual rights, as an enabling environment for promoting and empowering
adolescents and youth in relation to sexual and reproductive health, leadership, participation and sexuality education.
To create friendly spaces where adolescents and youth can resolve their needs regarding sexuality.
The experience of the Youth Network for health and sexual rights is part of a project of the National Centre for Sexual Education (CENESEX),
carried out with UNFPA support: “Men and women working together for sexual rights exercised from a gender perspective”.
CENESEX has been scaling up its work with youth since 2008 and by 2010 had succeeded in creating focal groups that opened the way for
a new education strategy. The Network was created in February 2011 and is represented in six of the country’s provinces.
Description &
National Sexual Health Education Programme (PRONESS) review and adjustments began in 2012, with the aim of it being approved as the
regulatory framework integrating all EIS efforts. To this effect working groups were created responsible for designing curricular, legislative
and social communication strategies from a perspective of human rights and gender. Civil society participates widely in this process. The
Youth Network for health and sexual rights is part of this initiative and forms an important filter in legitimizing youth participation and
leadership in PRONESS design and implementation.
The Network is comprised of young people of both sexes, trained as sexual health promoters and who define themselves as an inclusive,
diverse, participative, dynamic and flexible group in search of theoretical and personal growth, dialogue and opportunities for replicating
experiences. The Network performs a variety of functions, brought together on an integrated platform for active participation in the design
and implementation of initiatives and in defence of sexual rights in different scenarios within the country.
The CENESEX-lead project arose as a response to the need to continue working on problems that persist and/or emerge in a context
where the exercising of sexuality is not complete.
Following four years of implementation, progress was evaluated and the actions necessary for its continuation were identified. Among
the highlights found by the evaluation are the analyses of the situation of sexual health in the territories, the stratification of the territories
in line with the situation analysis, the logistical training of the sexuality education commissions in the selected municipalities and the
publication of materials about Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH).
Strategy, key
challenges and
In order to continue with the project, intervention initiatives were undertaken focused on training health and education sector human
resources and community players regarding priority sexual health issues, as well as technical assistance for specialists to develop and
continue with research. Members of vulnerable groups were trained as SRH promoters, according to needs and phases of life; printed
material was created and publicized; and annual workshops were held to enable experiences about the project to be shared between the
stakeholders from the different municipalities and provinces.
As a result of training young people, networks of SRH volunteers and promoters began to be created. With effect from 2012 the youth
network began to be strengthened, firstly in the area of sexual diversity and currently as a network for sexual rights.
It is an education and communication strategy for respect for free and responsible sexual orientation and gender identity. The
implementation strategy is aimed at integration and respect for individuality, as well as aiming to build a national network. One of the key
challenges is the need to harmonize its work with other youth organizations in existence in the country.
The Youth Network for health and sexual rights is based on the belief that youth is a strong source of social change, as well as being based
on the recognition of the challenge represented by them being the country’s future social stakeholders and decision makers.
The Youth Network for health and sexual rights has gained strengths as it has increased in size, maturity and experience. It began as a
small group of young university students from Havana and has since grown to include other youth groups and other of the country’s
territories. In 2013 the Network is comprised of 300 young people, including students, workers, the unemployed and the self-employed,
representing a variety of genders, sexual orientations, geographical and social backgrounds, levels of schooling, races and beliefs.
The Youth Network for health and sexual rights has become a channel that facilitates and promotes the training of SRH promoters,
supported by capacity existing within CENESEX and capacity created within the Network itself.
The Network has held more than a dozen training workshops for young health and sexual rights promoters.
The Network has achieved social recognition of its efforts to fight against discrimination and social stigmas, prevent teenage pregnancy
and STD/AIDS and promote healthy sexuality.
The Network’s actions have not just been limited to training promoters. It also does community work, making the most of spaces where
young people meet. It uses available resources and potential to achieve social transformation, through extensive sexuality education and
the full development of sexual health and sexual rights as human rights.
and results
The growth experienced by the Network has also made itself evident through the incorporation of more diversified themes into its
platform. Currently its key concern is to promote the exercising of sexual rights and, based on this perspective, other themes of interest to
adolescents and youth are also addressed.
The following are the main themes addressed by the Network in its training activities, communication initiatives and community actions:
Youth and sexuality
2. Eroticism, pleasure and sexuality
3. Methods for working with groups and peers
4. Gender and media
5. Citizen participation
6. Human rights and sexual diversity
Sexual health
The Network has taken part in important international and national fora, congresses and meetings, in particular: the regional consultation
meeting with Latin American and Caribbean Civil Society Organizations on the Programme of Action of the International Conference on
Population and Development (ICPD)+20, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, 2012; the World Youth Forum – Towards Cairo +20, held in Bali,
Indonesia, 2012; the Regional Conference on Population and Development, held in Montevideo, Uruguay, in 2013; the VI Cuban Congress
on Sexual Education, Therapy and Orientation; the Days on Homophobia and the IV Ibero-American Youth Meeting, held in Antigua,
Guatemala, in 2011
En el éxito de la Red, la capacitación continua ha jugado un rol fundamental. Su trabajo se ha centrado en el desarrollo de iniciativas
formativas no tradicionales que sean atractivas para adolescentes y jóvenes. Para el éxito en estas acciones ha sido relevante contar con
personal capacitado.
El trabajo con jóvenes se ha diseñado a partir de sus necesidades de aprendizaje y se apoya en la metodología de la Educación Popular
(ruptura con el modelo vertical de orientación y educación) y una mirada multi e interdisciplinaria.
Lessons learned
Se ha evidenciado que debe formentarse el diálogo, la reflexión, el respeto y la participación de los jóvenes aprovechando sus experiencias
y trabajando desde su cotidianidad.
El trabajo a nivel territorial que supone la Red ha permitido aprovechar las capacidades de los recursos humanos, espacios y tiempos de
cada contexto.
Se ha demostrado la necesidad de las alianzas estratégicas entre ciencia y activismo.
El significado de “participación”, supone mirar este fenómeno en dos direcciones, a quien desea y participa desde donde puede y como
puede, y a quien tiene el poder de disponer o controlar la participación. Se ha evidenciado la necesidad de romper las barreras que existen
para la participación de jóvenes.
Continuing education has played a fundamental role in the Network’s success. Its work has been focused on developing non-traditional
training initiatives that are attractive to adolescents and youth. Having qualified personnel has been important for the success of these
The work done with young people is based on their learning needs and on the Popular Education methodology (breaking away from the
top downwards model of guidance and education) from a multi- and interdisciplinary perspective.
Conclusions and
It has been found that dialogue, reflection, respect and youth participation need to be encouraged, making the most of their experiences
and working based on their everyday lives.
The Network’s work at territory level has enabled the most to be made of the human resource capacities, the spaces and the rhythms of
each setting.
The need for strategic alliances between science and activism has been demonstrated.
The meaning of “participation”, assumes looking at this phenomenon from two points of view, that of those who wish to and do participate
as and how they can, and those who have the power to make participation available or control it. The need to break down existing barriers
to youth participation has been made eviden
National Centre for STD and HIV/AIDS Prevention
Cuban Multidisciplinary Sexuality Studies Society (SOCUMES)
Ministry of Education, Department of School Health
Sources and links
[email protected]; [email protected]
Youth Network for health and sexual rights
Fly UP