Gender and Sexuality
Sexuality can bring misery through sexual violence, HIV/AIDS, maternal mortality, female genital mutilation, or marginalisation of those who break the rules, such as non-macho men, single women, widows who re-marry, sex workers, people with same-sex sexualities, and transgender people. Sexuality can also bring joy, affirmation, intimacy and well-being. How can we make possible more joy and less misery? This Cutting Edge Pack hopes to inspire thinking on this question - with an Overview Report outlining key issues on gender, sexuality and sexual rights in the current climate, a Supporting Resources Collection providing summaries of key texts, tools, case studies and contacts of organisations in this field, and a Gender and Development In Brief newsletter with three short articles on the theme.
Sexuality and gender can combine to make a huge difference in people's lives - between well-being and ill-being, and sometimes between life and death. This report provides an overview of the connections between gender and sexuality and looks at why these issues are important for policymakers, practitioners and activists. It explores new thinking and action on sexual rights and asks how fulfilment, well-being and pleasure can become more possible for all.
Recommendations from the Overview Report
International institutions, governments, NGOs, development agencies, the women’s movement, human rights activists and others all have a vital role to play in contributing to greater well-being by supporting sexual rights in the following ways:
Recognise the importance of sexuality:
- Recognise the importance of sexuality and sexual rights in people’s lives. Recognise that sexuality is more than a health and violence issue. Identify the interconnections with well-being and ill-being, wealth and poverty, integration and marginalisation, and the significance of sexuality in political struggles.
Take an inclusive, gendered and positive approach to sexuality:
- Recognise the links between different sexuality issues. Support integrated approaches to sexuality which challenge gender, race, class and other structures of power.
- Build strength for inclusive sexual rights movements, through supporting alliances between different groups and at the same time challenging the gender and other inequalities within and between these groups.
- Take an inclusive and gendered approach to sexual rights open to all - women who may be denied their rights by gender inequality, transgender whose very existence may be ignored, and straight men who may be assumed not to need these rights as they are perceived to already have it all.
- Go beyond rights to be free from violence, to support positive rights and rights to pleasure as well. • Draw inspiration from and connect with the exciting initiatives already happening!
Mobilising around sexuality is not new. Activists and practitioners have long been working on issues such as HIV/AIDS; sexual violence; abortion; sex work; and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. What is new is the integrated, affirmative approach to sexuality which is increasingly being adopted. This Supporting Resources Collection provides summaries on key writings, tools and initiatives with the aim of presenting a comprehensive overview of new approaches to gender and sexuality issues. It outlines practical examples of sexuality training from around the world; provides case studies of activism and programming around sexuality; and summarises toolkits designed to facilitate advocacy, programming, training and self-education in relation to sexuality. It also lists useful web resources and provides networking and contact details of organisations working on gender and sexuality.
In Brief is a six page newsletter that aims to stimulate thinking on a priority gender theme. This edition focuses on gender, sexuality and sexual rights, starting with an overview and recommendations followed by two distinctive case studies highlighting practical responses to key issues. The first is an article on Girl Power Initiative's (GPI) sexuality education programme in Nigeria, which includes modules on personal skills, sexual health, human growth and development, society and culture, gender, human rights, relationships, gender-based violence, and economic skills. Rather than emphasising girls’ vulnerability, this approach aims to empower girls and young women to take control of their reproductive and sexual lives and realise their full potential as individuals. The second is a piece on the Travesti Museum promoting transgender rights in Peru. The museum not only celebrates travestis but also aims to show that categorising all humans as either male or female poses problems for everyone, not just for travesties. The article outlines the links between the aims of the feminist and the transgender movements, and highlights the need to build solidarity between activists.