Proper Sex Ed Has The Power To Transform Lives In Kenya

Photo: Courtesy of YouTube Originals and Global Fund For Women.
Purity Kagwiria talks about conception, puberty, body image, and sex myths to high schoolers. This may sound like a typical health ed class to some, but in Kenya, where Kagwiria lives and teaches, what she's doing is actually pretty boundary breaking.
She's the executive director of Akili Dada, an organization that works on cultivating leadership skills with under-served girls and young women.
In classrooms, she draws charts and lets students know that their hip and breast sizes don’t determine their worth. She answers questions and busts myths about sex. No, "birth control won’t make you barren," she might tell her students, confronting a widely spread misbelief in the region.
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In a world where gender inequality is still prevalent, she's changing lives. Women in Kenya have limited access to land tenure, education, and employment opportunities in the country, according to the United States Agency for International Development, which is responsible for aid and development in other countries. Gender-based violence, including sexual assault, is also prevalent in the country. In a study of young women in Nairobi, 7.2% of adolescent girls had reported being raped in the prior 12 months, reports the journal PLOS One. Of 21.3% of girls who said they had boyfriends, 38.1% said they'd experienced emotional, physical, or sexual partner violence. Kagwiria says that despite the country's efforts to bring more comprehensive sex education to schools, lack of information still greatly contributes to these problems.
“Education is power to these girls because it gives them leverage and agency,” Kagwiria tells Refinery29. “It helps people have their own identity, and come to an understanding that they can own their bodies.” 
Kagwiria is featured in an upcoming episode of YouTube’s new Fundamental series, which was made in partnership with The Global Fund For Women, and shines a light on change-makers around the world. In particular, it highlights female and non-binary leaders, like Kagwiria.
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“When someone has a voice and just knows who they are, it’s power," Kagwiria explains. "And this is how I started my journey in the women’s rights work — to give girls a voice. To ensure that more girls have opportunities and access to justice."
Watch the series on YouTube premium on March 4.
If you have experienced sexual violence and are in need of crisis support, please call the RAINN Sexual Assault Hotline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673). 

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