Love Matters India: Sex Education Conclave

In November 2015, Love Matters India organised the first ever sex education conclave for over 9,000 young people in the student city of Dehdrun, Uttarakhand.

AK_2015_11_23_044The conclave was an opportunity to raise awareness, provide resources and discuss issues relating to sex, sexuality and gender equality, in an environment where sexual education is scarce and open and honest discussions around sex are almost unheard of. The conclave took place at Tula’s Institute, Engineering and Management College.

Group discussions with students were utilised to gather insights regarding the best ways to engage the youth population in the area. Students decided that fests were the best way to offer a mix of information and fun activities as well as ensuring high participation. All final activities were based on student group suggestions, ensuring relevance and appeal to our target audience.

Through informative panel discussion, debate, games, competitions, cultural events and more, the event was all set to bust myths and open up discussions around love, sex and relationships.

99% indicated they had learned new things about sex and relationships

The final result was a two-day event open to all colleges and high schools in the city, with mixed activities engaging young people on the subject of sexual education. The conclave was able to bring together a diverse array of partnerships with other individuals and organisations advocating on sexual diversity and youth issues. This included a panel discussion featuring organisations such as CREA, Uddeshya, Youth Ki Awaaz and individuals such as Harish Iyer – LGBTQ rights activist and LoveDoctor.

1242 respondents completed an exit survey

Local celebrities were also invited to participate in the activities and advocate for sex education in India. This included a

dance performance on the theme of women and sexuality by the renowned Kathak artist Shinjini Kulkarni, a performance by popular band Swarrveda and hosting of the final show by television actor Rithvik Dhanjani.

"Something like [LD1] this has never happened in Dehradun ever! Talking about SEX openly."

"Talking about sex and sexuality in our society is considered to be a taboo and after hearing the panel members talk about it so openly it has changed my mind about sex."

"The relationships in which people believe men should be dominant do not have the correct understanding of the relationships and thanks to Love Matters to be telling it to people."

Youth oriented activities were organised to create space to discuss young people’s opinions and experiences regarding issues surrounding sex and relationships. Activities included a debate on the importance of sex education in India, a fashion show, and a battle of the bands relating to themes of love and relationships, as well as dance-off based on the subject of consent.

AK_2015_11_25_493The event also gave school principals and staff members the opportunity to talk openly with their students about sex education for the first time.

The conclave received widespread coverage across local media organisations, with articles (in English and Hindi) around the theme of sex education in India. These were featured in Dainik Jagran, The Himachal Times and Garhwal Post amongst others.

The Love Matters India Sex Education Conclave is an example of a successful offline intervention, which reached a high number of young people in order to discuss love, sex and relationships in a community where this subject is considered taboo. The level of enthusiasm and engagement from local educational institutions highlighted the conclave’s ability to promote change at an institutional level.

Love Matters India would like to make a Conclave an annual event, travelling around India and reaching out to more young people to begin a dialogue on the importance of sex education. In 2016, Love Matters plans a similar Conclave in the State of Orissa, India – aiming to engage over 10,000 young people.

Tula’s Institute, The Engineering and Management College, Dehradun, Uttarakhand