Historical archive

Statement at congress on comprehensive sexuality education

Historical archive

Published under: Solberg's Government

Publisher Ministry of Foreign Affairs

State secretary Marianne Hagen's closing statement at a conference in Oslo 14th-15th December on comprehensive sexuality education - with participants from more than 50 countries.

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Dear distinguished colleagues and friends.

I want to express my deep felt thanks for your engagement and hard work during the two days here in Oslo.

We are here because we want to close the gap between the goals of the Agenda 2030 and the realities on the ground.  As you have heard throughout this conference, the majority of adolescents and youth still lack the knowledge required to make responsible and healthy decisions about their own sexual and reproductive health.

In addition to the obvious health benefits, we agree that CSE (comprehensive sexuality education) play an important role in promoting human rights. The right of every one of us to control our own bodies, our sexuality without of discrimination, coercion or violence. 

Being un- or misinformed can have large implications. Like UNFPAs, Executive Director Kanem said it:

‘’If we close our eyes to the facts, we will learn through accidents’’.

Together with UNFPA we have gathered you here because we need to work more closely together, to learn from each other and agree on how to advance CSE. 

I’ve learned that there has been many valuable contributions and suggestions that has come up in these two days.   From the youth representatives, from the civil society, the governments, the UN agencies and also the private sector. All from different parts of the world.

Among the many good recommendations you have put forward in the conference, I have noted a few:

  • CSE should be included in schools, when possible.
  • To ensure success, a strong political commitment is needed,
  • We need to engage young people, as well as their parents and communities to advance CSE.
  • The term CSE is often better understood and accepted when “unpacked”  
  • CSE must be based on evidence, and only evidence.

I would like to add a few observations to your excellent recommendations.

A well-functioning educational system is a prerequisite for providing CSE in schools. We know however, that quality education is not universal.

Hence, we must continue to support and improve quality education; simultaneously we must develop and align CSE to the systems. We also need to improve the level of competence among teachers and health personnel, and work across sectors. And while doing this, let us not forget what Iconmobile illustrated so nicely -  how we can utilize technology to this end!

We know, however, that we have challenges – including resistance due to misconceptions, prejudice, religious beliefs and traditions.

To tackle this we need to engage civil society, religious leaders, parents, communities and most importantly, young people themselves.

Let us build bridges where we can, but let us stand up for the rights, health and education for our children. And let us seize the opportunities social media and rapid information sharing across borders offer us to get our messages across.

As governments we must constantly challenge ourselves to do better. We must take lead. We owe that to the people we are serving. Political commitment is key. Norway stands committed.

I sincerely believe that the discussions, and the energy coming out of this conference is an important first step of a joint way forward.

We will work together to advance comprehensive sexuality education. In addition to the follow-up at country level, there will be a number of important events during the following months where we should engage to advance the agenda. 

We leave this meeting with a promise to work together to promote CSE; to protect and promote the health and rights of youth and adolescents.

We will all be better equipped to deliver on the SDGs.

Sexuality education is technical term, but it refers to a reality that each and every one of us can relate to. It is about the young girl who believes she might die when she has her first menstruation. It is about the many women who do not know how to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or abuse. It is about how we all can live healthy lives.

I thank you again for your contributions and efforts, and for taking the time to join us here in Oslo.

I wish you all a safe journey back home.