By Kesang Yuden, Youth Volunteer from Bhutan
On the 22nd of May; 2010, we had this awesome workshop on sexual and reproductive health with Milinda. It was definitely awkward at first but I guess we got over the discomfort as soon as it came. I will have to admit that it was a rather different approach towards learning about sexual health from our conventional method because we weren’t used to having such degree of openness about a subject like sex, but it certainly did leave an impact on us. Now going back to today’s activities, we first acquainted ourselves with each other by writing our name in this piece of paper and ‘drawing’ our hobbies (my drawings sucked by the way) and we went round glancing at others’ papers. After the ice breaker, we moved on to a detailed introduction on IPPF, its various branches scattered around the world, its workings and its goals and objectives. We were also introduced to OneVoice and SARYN (South Asia Regional Youth Network). It was very inspiring to know that youths in most countries play important roles in the decision making process and how every youth had the opportunity to speak on bigger platforms; Milinda and Ankit were shining examples. It shows just how much our views and opinions matter and hopefully we will be able to have a youth council ourselves with the full fledged support from IPPF and RENEW.
Most of us were completely unaware of the difference between the words ‘gender’ and ‘sex’. ‘Gender’, we learnt, is how our social norms define us, and ‘sex’ is our natural physical attributes which distinguishes a male from a female. At first we shied away from the word ‘sexuality’; we thought of it only as the union of a male and a female but then we understood that it was a lot more than that; it had a lot to do with being a homosexual or a heterosexual etc. This discussion gave way to an intense talk on human rights which was basically the right to make your own choices. This session was very motivating.
We then had group presentations on the sexual and reproductive problems that our country faces and the possible solutions to them. We discussed topics like teenage pregnancy, illiteracy, unhygienic practices, nighthunting, etc.
In between the presentations, Milinda enlightened us on rather awkward but very useful and educational subjects like the difference in levels of sexuality/sexual pressure between a male and a female, masturbation, and similar stuff. He also shared some of his own personal experiences which were both hilarious and inspirational at the same time.
The best that came out of this program would be the idea of creating a properly trained and skilled youth group to create awareness and help adolescents of our age cope with problems related to sexual and reproductive health instead of the conventional health officials and adults giving briefings and lengthy (in other words boring) health talks. We hope we can get this working soon.
All in all, this was a wonderful program/discussion and we enjoyed ourselves enormously. We have Milinda to thank for everything he taught us and discussed with us. It was certainly an eye opening experience, what with him being so jovial and opens with us.