Challenging Environments

By challenging environments to SRHR it is meant that there are cultural and societal environments where open discussion or information dissemination about SRHR topics are considered immoral and taboo and where accessing sexual health services is highly stigmatized.

In these environments for instance family planning services might be acceptable but be limited to only married couples excluding everyone else (adolescents, unmarried, sex workers, sexual and gender minorities).

  • Conservative/traditional societies, communities and cultures raise several barriers that impede universal access to SRHR. Access to rights-based services, such as contraception and comprehensive sexuality education, is often compromised or denied.
  • In challenging environments SRHR taboos include several topics such as sexuality in general, condom use, family planning, addressing sexual and gender based violence.
  • It is essential to recognize and address these taboos to be able to advance SRHR and break the barriers for positive changes.
  • Certain groups are marginalized and left behind in challenging environments. Especially adolescents are not receiving comprehensive sexuality education which would equip them with skills to enhance their well-being, nor can they access SRH services to realize safe sex practices. Either adolescents are denied services, they are embarrassed to seek them, or they are treated with disrespect and negative attitudes.
  • Building enabling environments is a complex task that requires long-term interventions at family, community and policy level.