IWD2022 – Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
The theme for the upcoming International Women’s Day on 8 March 2022 is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”. As a longtime advocate for women’s rights and reproductive justice, I have seen how these commemorative days and international conventions promoting gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights can feel like empty rhetoric. As a parent, I feel an urgent need to right the inequality not just in words, but also in practice – to do my part to create a more just world for the next generation.
I believe that quality, comprehensive sexuality education for young people is essential if we want to achieve a world where gender justice and respect for sexual and reproductive rights are a reality. Two years into a global pandemic, where young people have had limited social interaction and countless hours of online school (plus access to all the pitfalls of the internet) has only reinforced my belief that without sex education, we are failing our kids. There is a lot of fear and concern when it comes to the topic of sexuality education, but at its core, it is about providing young people with the information they need to feel confident and positive about who are they, to understand their bodies and to make healthy decisions about relationships, sex and their future that allow them to feel empowered and in control. And it means ensuring parents have the reliable resources they need to talk to their kids and support them as they navigate this complicated world, including sites such as AMAZE or Advocates for Youth
Here in Hong Kong, organizations like Teen’s Key have been trailblazers in helping young people, especially vulnerable young women, access the information and resources they need. But NGOs can’t shoulder this work alone – governments and schools have a responsibility to ensure that all young people have access to quality, age-appropriate sexuality education. There’s no need to start from scratch – experts and researchers have compiled a multitude of resources to help governments and educators implement evidence-based national-level programs. In 2018, UNESCO published the International Technical Guidelines on sexuality education, offering a blueprint for providing sexuality education within a framework of human rights and gender equality.
As a global center, Hong Kong can and should lead the way in preparing its young people for the future by providing universal, comprehensive sexuality education. This IWD2022, please consider collaborating with Teen’s Key in their efforts to promote sexual and reproductive rights and support their work by becoming a monthly donor. Let’s join together to make sure our young people have the information and support they need to lead healthy, confident, and empowered lives.