IDS Sexuality and Development Programme

Development usually treats sexuality as a problem: over-population, sexually transmitted disease, or sexual violence in the home and as a weapon of war. The images that come with any mention of the subject are those of risk and danger, disease and death.

This focus well describes some of the consequences of the disregard for sexual rights that exists the world over. There has been a recent emphasis on criminalising non-normative sexuality and a rise in homophobic violence in several places in the world. However, focusing merely upon this negativity generates fear and disempowerment, and discourages us from seeing how we might be able to change our situations.

Rather than focusing on pain, harm and wrongs, a more positive, pleasure-oriented, view of sexuality offers an entirely different set of entry points for work to make sexual rights real. Similarly, broadening the areas within law, development policy and practice in which sexuality is considered is an increasingly crucial area of consideration. Understanding the relationship between sexual rights and poverty illustrates the need for aid policies and poverty alleviation efforts that account for sexuality and examine unspoken assumptions and exclusions.

It is with these entry points that the work of the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme is concerned. We currently support research and communications aimed at rethinking the relationship between sexuality, rights and development and building stronger links between people in different contexts working to realize their sexual rights. Working closely with established networks and movements, approaches to protecting and respecting rights are based on strategies drawn from local communities that are most affected.

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Pathways of Women's Empowerment Research Programme Consortium

Pathways is a research and communication programme which seeks to discover where women are achieving real gains despite or because of policy and practice. It looks at how this has happened, and aims to make these pathways visible so that we can build on these revealed successes. More details

Sexuality and Local Voices

The Sexuality and Development project is one of the workstreams of the Gender, Power and Sexuality (GPS) Programme, funded by Sida. More details

Bridging the Gap Evaluation

This is a mid-term evaluation of the Bridging the Gaps Programme a global program operating in 16 countries across all the main key populations at-risk for HIV. More details

Sexuality and Development Programme (2007-11)

Supporting the realisation of sexual rights and access to basic services for those facing poverty and injustice More details

View all Research Programme's publications

Use this search to display this programme's publications and filter by journal, author, country and much more.


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Cover page for S. Jolly paper 'Sexuality and the Economy in China'

Sexuality and the Economy in China

This publication examines the changing relationships between sex and money in contemporary China. Factors such as marriage or other forms of sexual expression still impact upon access to resources, whilst financial and economic status impacts dramatically upon access to sex and partners, as well as opportunities for pleasure and sexual expression. More details

This is the teaser image for IDS Evidence Report 7, 'Politically Motivated Sexual Assault and the Law in Violent Transitions: A Case Study from Egypt'.

Politically Motivated Sexual Assault and the Law in Violent Transitions: A Case Study from Egypt

IDS Evidence Report 8 (2013)

This case study is about the use of sexual violence against women and men in order to deter the opposition from engaging in protests and demonstrations in a context of a country in transition, Egypt. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 7

A Progressive Constitution Meets Lived Reality: Sexuality and the Law in South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 7 (2013)

This paper examines two cases of homophobic hate crime in post-apartheid South Africa. It illuminates how activists have used the legal system to address the violence faced by many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or intersex (LGBTQI) South Africans. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 3, 'Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women Living with HIV in South Africa'

Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights of Women Living with HIV in South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 3 (2013)

South Africa's constitutional and legal framework reflects the country's commitment to women's Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) in line with international commitments. Nevertheless, women's rights are still abused and overlooked. More details

Sex Work and its Linkages with Informal Labour Markets in India

IDS Working Paper 416 (2013)

Based on the results of the First Pan India Survey of Female Sex Workers (n=3000), this paper positions sex work within the broader spectrum of informal labour markets that women engage with in India. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Creative Nepal - Expressions of Sexuality and Gender

This website is the product of research that was conducted by Nepal’s sexual and gender minorities, Paul Boyce and Daniel Coyle in December 2012 as part of a larger research funded by the Institute of Development Studies on Sexuality and Law in different countries around the world. More details

IDS Practice Paper

Bringing Together Pleasure and Politics: Sexuality Workshops in Rural India

IDS Practice Paper 6 (2010)

What are the linkages between sexuality and violence against women - beyond sexual violence? Do poor rural women want to talk about sex? More details

IDS publications on international development research

HIV/AIDS, the disability grant and ARV adherence

This report presents selected findings from a project conducted in collaboration between Fafo and University of Cape Town, AIDS and Society Research Unit. Through triangulated qualitative and quantitative research methods, we studied whether people living with HIV faced trade-offs between treatment adherence and grant termination. More details

IDS Working Paper

Whose Sexualities Count: Poverty Participation and Sexual Rights

IDS Working Paper 294 (2007)

Sexuality and sexual rights have generally been treated as secondary to 'more important matters' such as poverty. The first part of this paper explores the linkages between sexuality and other areas which are considered to be priorities in development, such as health, education, work, migration and political participation. It shows that sexuality is about so much more than sex. More details

IDS Working Paper

Why the Development Industry Should Get Over its Obsession with Bad Sex and Start to Think About Pleasure

IDS Working Paper 283 (2007)

The development industry has emphasised the dangers of sex and sexuality in relation to population control, disease and violence. This negative approach to sex has been filtered through a view of gender which stereotypes men as predators, women as victims, and fails to recognise the existence of transgender people. More details

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