The art of engaging religious leaders in advocating for sexuality education

Recently, we were invited to a meeting to discuss harnessing the demographic dividend by investing in the youth population.

Obviously, we prepared a technical presentation and a highlight of the Kenyan roadmap providing a pathway that the country needs to harness the potential of its youth for faster socio-economic development.

On reaching the Nairobi meeting venue, we realized we had to change our lenses. The audience comprised of religious leaders. We had to factor in that the subject of sexuality education was a sensitive subject among religious leaders.

The first task was to unpack the term demographic dividend. In simple terms we explained that dividend means “bonus” and demographic means “a particular sector of the population” and in our case we meant the youth population.

Using illustrations of the engage presentation of the four pillars of education, health, economic and governance we explained how investing in the youth by providing quality education and skills development, quality healthcare, and economic empowerment would yield economic returns.

The findings of a research that was done to establish the health, education, economic and governance problems facing young people helped to shade more light on the demographic dividend.

The discussions opened up the subject of sexual reproductive health problems facing young people in Kenya; teenage pregnancy, early sexual initiation, drug and substance abuse, unsafe abortion, sexual gender based violence and the role of the faith community in addressing the issues.

The forum offered a deep dive into the subject and as a result a team was formed to look into the issues. As a famous person once said that, “when the road gets tough you do not take flight but you change shoes”.



For more details on the blog, email Irene Muhunzai on

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