Comprehensive Sexual Education a Key for Empowering Young Girls

The call to include sex education in school curricula has definitely increased now when compared to few years back. However, many schools just talk about reproduction and menstruation when it comes to sexual education.

Debanjana Choudhuri
Updated On
New Update
decreased female enrollment in gujarat
Rights of girls and women must be looked from a holistic angle. This can happen when young girls are empowered via education. Youngsters want to be healthy and happy. They want to understand their bodies, have good relationships, and want to avoid situations like sexual abuse and exploitation, unwanted pregnancies, and contracting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) while growing up. This is possible when they are made aware what’s right and good for them.

Schools, therefore, must include Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in school curricula for students especially girls in secondary schools.

Due to deep rooted patriarchy and social biases in the society, women and girls are often subjected to discrimination. In India, while the government is carrying out various outreach and awareness programmes like the ‘Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao’ and ‘CBSE UDAAN Scheme’, the overall situation of girls still needs drastic improvement.

The solution is - education!

Education is one of the most important tools to empower individuals, especially women and young girls. According to the 2011 census, the literacy rate stands at 74% while the rate of literacy among women is just 65.46%. Even the sex ratio at birth is quite skewed despite the number of girls born per 1,000 boys improving by three points, from an average 904 in 2017-19 to 907 in 2018-20. When it comes to sexuality education, the reports are an eye opener. Only 10% of married adolescent women were found to be using modern contraceptives. According to 2015-’16 National Family Health Survey-4, 52% of women, aged 15 years to 24 years, in rural areas didn’t use modern menstrual hygiene products and 8% of women aged 15-19 years were already pregnant during the time of the survey. These issues need to be fixed if the statement ‘children are the future of a country’ holds any truth.

That’s why days like International Day of the Girl Child are important. It helps in promoting the rights, education, health, and nutrition of the girl child. Because, if they’re not empowered or given equal rights like the men or boys, can a country really be called prosperous and developed?

Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Say yes to CSE!


The call to include sex education in school curricula has definitely increased now when compared to few years back. However, many schools just talk about reproduction and menstruation when it comes to sexual education. Despite the Indian Government initiating ‘Adolescent Education Program’ (AEP) in 2007, which aimed to increase sex education classes in schools, discussions on gender, sex and relationships are often avoided. This can create a lot of ambiguity for a girl child, especially those living in rural India.

Suggested Reading:

5 Indian Women Speak About Being The Only Girl Child In The Family

World over, women and girls have been systematically marginalized and have been bearing the brunt of deep-rooted patriarchy. Social stigmas are attached around menstruation, sex and unwanted pregnancy even today. Given the nature of this male dominated society, the girl child is put in a confused spot if not counselled well. She doesn’t have the agency or a safe space to talk about these natural things, often leading to gender-based violence, illegal sex determination leading to terminating pregnancy which can have long lasting effects on the girl or woman’s mental and physical health. To make things worse, various reports by United Nations highlight how climate emergency will only amplify the existing inequalities that women and girls face.


So what can be done?

Socio-cultural practices that work as barriers to empowerment of women and girls need to be removed now. Girls should get equal opportunities and the support to become independent not just in theory but also in practice. This is achievable when policies and mechanisms are in place to ensure proper secondary education is provided to young girls along with CSE.

Despite the government’s ‘Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan’ in place, there are cases where families in rural India force their girls to drop put of school after hitting puberty. They are also denied other opportunities like taking part in sports activities and going out with male friends other than family members.

The government and other stakeholders must ensure girls don’t drop out of schools because education is very important for a holistic early child development. Comprehensive sexual education should be given equal importance in school curricula. Teachers should be trained well and proper infrastructure must be put in place to share this knowledge among students.

Don’t ‘Shush’ this!

Given the fact that role of women is largely dictated by culture’s gender norms and values, women are more vulnerable to sexual abuse and rapes that can lead to unwanted pregnancies. CSE also helps sensitize boys towards the opposite gender and teaches them about consent from a young age which helps in paving a safe environment for girls and women.

That’s why children, especially girls should be given a safe space to discuss sexual and reproductive developments.

At the end of the day, a girl’s right to make autonomous decisions about her life, body and reproductive functions is at the core of her basic rights to liberty, equality, and privacy. We as a society need to uphold these rights. We need to invest in their education and work towards removing all kinds of discrimination and exploitation they face.

Debanjana Choudhuri is a Gender and Climate Specialist. The views expressed are the author's own.

#International day of the girl child 2022 Comprehensive Sexuality Education