Working in partnership with The Case for Her and The Pleasure Project, eight grassroots AmplifyChange grantees received dedicated funding to integrate pleasure-based approaches into their projects.
Pleasure is a key tool in ensuring that all individuals can access their full sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), prioritising joy, safety and consent.
Pleasure is recognised as a key component of sexual health and wellbeing and evidence shows that embracing pleasure-based, sex-positive approaches contributes to positive outcomes for SRHR services and programming.
Despite this, many SRHR programmes, such as those addressing unintended pregnancy, sexuality education, HIV and STIs, still focus on fear-based approaches for behaviour change.
Embracing pleasure, embracing change
To change the narrative and improve SRHR programming, we believe that more opportunities should be offered to civil society organisations to include pleasure-based approaches in their work. That’s why we are proud to be early adopters of the Pleasure Principles, partnering with The Pleasure Project and The Case for Her to offer training and top-up funding to grantees.
The participating organisations are receiving additional technical support and training around effective pleasure-inclusive sexual health approaches from The Pleasure Project. They will monitor how activities that use pleasure and sex-positive approaches can contribute to successful SRHR interventions across different communities and thematic areas.
The technical support was designed in collaboration with all eight organisations, who shared their ambition to explore critical areas of their pleasure work in more detail. The projects span across Sub-Saharan Africa and India, enabling diverse populations to improve their access to sex-positive SRHR.
To support the organisations in implementing their work, the training included a series of webinars covering topics and concepts such as:
- Collecting evidence in pleasure-based sexual health
- Guidance on measuring pleasure and influencing pleasure narratives
- Communicating pleasure
The organisations are also receiving individual technical support from The Pleasure Project and AmplifyChange.
In the coming months, we will share progress updates about the impact of pleasure-inclusive approaches on the organisations’ SRHR advocacy with the wider community.
Meet the organisations below
Sesotho Media & Development (SM&D)
SM&D uses film as a tool to support marginalised and vulnerable groups with information in order for them to lead change processes in their communities. Through their AmplifyChange project, SM&D has been specifically engaging youth. Through this top-up funding they will create safe spaces for peer-to-peer open-discussions around consensual, pleasurable safe sex for prevention of HIV and unplanned pregnancies using film and participatory approaches.
We have been addressing SRHR for the past 20 years, in one form or another, including components of pleasure. However, this pleasure project has allowed us to have a specific focus on the pleasure approach and to use information from this project to inform the organisation and our partners in the health sector.Sesotho Media & Development
Young and Alive Initiative
Young and Alive Initiative is a Tanzanian youth-led non-profit organisation whose mission is to actively engage and empower young people, women and vulnerable populations to improve access to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights. They adopt different strategies and approaches in their work such as innovation, information technology, and advocacy capacity building.
Young and Alive Initiative will work with youth champions to develop a Swahili module for sexual pleasure and its implications to safe sexual practice as part of their youth training programme. This will accompany a series of round table discussions and dissemination activities.
Funding pleasure-based approaches in SRHR is like amplifying the importance of pleasure-based sex education, which we think is very important. Amplifying pleasure-based approaches is equal to promoting safe sexual practices, understanding our sexual diversities as young people, and transforming cultural norms that make discussing sex a taboo.Young and Alive Initiative
Women’s Health and Equal Rights Association – Rwanda
Women’s Health and Equal Right Association – Rwanda (WHERAR) is an emerging women’s human rights group that provides information and services to women experiencing human rights violations. Their aims are to promote women’s rights towards sexual and reproductive health and empower women and girls in Rwanda, mainly those living in the Gisagara district in the Southern Province of Rwanda, to become self-confident in making healthy choices. WHERAR will integrate pleasure-inclusive sexual health through open and participatory dialogues with out-of-school girls and young women. They will integrate pleasure-inclusive sexual health topics in training, radio and TV talk shows and other communication materials.
We want to integrate pleasure-inclusive approaches to sexual health in our work because this will help us in tackling and reducing stigma, discrimination and culturally grounded misconceptions surrounding sexuality. Integrating pleasure-inclusive approaches to sexual health will also help us in expanding access to reliable sex-positive sexual health information among our project beneficiaries as we want women and girls to understand their sexual rights when it comes to sexual pleasure.Women’s Health and Equal Rights Initiative – Rwanda
South India AIDS Action Programme (SIAAP)
SIAAP’s mission is to promote vibrant communities by supporting sexual and mental health and well-being, safety and informed consent, and employability preparedness among adolescents and young people.
Their project aims to build leadership for SRHR among sex workers and to advocate at state level for the acceptance of their sex worker-sensitive SRHR service guidelines. SIAAP will integrate pleasure into their SRH knowledge, attitude, skill and perspective building curriculum to build the capacities of sex workers contacted by peer leaders.
We want to integrate pleasure-inclusive approaches to sexual health in our work because when we started discussing the idea of sexual pleasure with female sex workers, we found ourselves as excited as they were. Addressing pleasure in sexual health programs enables women to actively pursue their well-being through promoting a sense of enjoyment along with prevention from disease.South India AIDS Action Programme
Groupe de volontaires pour la promotion de la maternité sans risques (GVP-MASAR) – RDC
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
Groupe de volontaires pour la promotion de la maternité sans risques (GVP-MASAR) are a CSO based in South Kivu, DRC, who work to contribute to the reduction of maternal, neonatal and infant mortality rates and defend and promote the right to sexual and reproductive health.
As part of their project working with midwives as advocates for improved access to safe and legal abortion and post-abortion care services, GVP-MASAR will integrate sex-positive approaches into outreach and trainings conducted with midwives about comprehensive standards and guidelines for abortion care and other reproductive health care.
We want to integrate pleasure-inclusive sexual health approaches into our work to break down taboos and barriers to positive pleasure-based sexuality. We will create a pool of midwife mentors who will set up safe spaces where midwives and women will meet regularly to talk positively about sex and especially about the role of pleasure in the well-being of the human body.Groupe de volontaires pour la promotion de la maternité sans risques (GVP-MASAR) – RDC
Haguruka is a Rwandan non-governmental organisation whose mission is to promote and defend the rights of women and children. Haguruka will incorporate the pleasure perspective into their work on Comprehensive Sexuality Education for young adolescents in faith-based school settings in Rwanda. The project will develop a Haguruka pleasure SRHR training manual and select teachers from the schools they are already working with to be pleasure champions to facilitate dialogues with in-school adolescents and youth.
We want to integrate pleasure-inclusive approaches to sexual health in our work to increase voices and discussions among adolescents on safe sex, rights, and bodily autonomy in Rwanda.Haguruka
Encadrement des femmes indigènes et des ménages vulnérables (EFIM)
Democratic Republic of the Congo
EFIM and their partners advocate for the promotion of Batwa women’s rights and the rights of the vulnerable, to ensure the mobilisation of the population around the improvement of their socio-cultural, political, economic and health conditions. Their project involves young people and parents, educating them about responsible and safe sexuality using a pleasure-based approach to break the myths and taboos that prevent parents from talking to young people about sexual and reproductive health.
We plan to integrate pleasure-inclusive sexual health approaches into our work because we want to prevent rape and other sexual violence, HIV/AIDS transmission, unwanted pregnancies, promote family planning, prevent sexually transmitted infections and have control over one’s own sexuality, which contributes to improved maternal and child health among Batwa women and girls.Encadrement des femmes indigènes et des ménages vulnérables (EFIM)
Transgender Equality Uganda
Transgender Equality Uganda (TEU) advocates for the SRHR of trans women through working together with other CSOs to challenge laws that affect the LBTQI community. TEU are conducting focus group discussions with groups of trans women about their pleasure and sexuality, which will inform outreach campaigns with healthcare providers to better serve trans women and reduce stigma in healthcare.
Talking about pleasure-inclusive sexual health for transgender women will help bring about positive attitudes with the way that the community talks about sex, rather than the shaming and the fear that we as transgender women have when we are talking about sex. This will contribute to safe sex behaviours.Transgender Equality Uganda
Incorporating pleasure-based approaches: tips and resources for your project
- Listen to Sarian Kamara of Keep the Drums, Lose the Knife discuss sex positivity and how it is working with FGM/C survivors in remote communities of Sierra Leone to help them to reclaim their bodies on the AmplifyChange Podcast
- The Pleasure Project website has lots of resources, articles and information on sex-positive and pleasure-based approaches for SRHR, including the Pleasure Principles
- Visit AmplifyChange Learn to read our how-to guide on pleasure inclusive sexuality education written by the Pleasure Project