Sexuality

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 engagement. 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.

Across the Institute, 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. Collaborating closely with established networks and movements, our approach to protecting and respecting rights are based on strategies drawn from local communities that are most affected. Much of this theme’s activity is organised through the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme and the Sexuality, Poverty and Law Programme.

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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

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

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IDS publications on international development research

Sexuality and Development

Development 52.1 (2009)
IDS publications on international development research

Sexuality Matters (French Version)

IDS Bulletin 37.5 (2009)

The issue shows why sexuality matters. Drawing on the inspiring ‘Realising Sexual Rights’ workshop held at IDS in 2005, the resulting innovative articles here provide diverse accounts of sexual rights conceptions, mobilisation, and new approaches to implementation. This is a first for IDS – both to host such an event and to produce an IDS Bulletin on this theme. More details

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing

Sexuality Activism in China - Lessons for and from Donors

IDS In Focus Policy Briefing 8.3 (2009)

China's experience shows that work on sexuality can help to reduce HIV /AIDS, combat discrimination and marginalisation, and promote gender equality and well-being. Drawing on interviews with donors and activists in China, this Policy Briefing outlines lessons to be learnt for donors to constructively support work on sexuality. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Rethinking Sexuality and Policy

id21 Insights 75 (2008)

What do sexuality and policy have to do with each other? Is not sexuality personal, private, and more to do with your body than your politics? Of course on one level it is. However, if we consider our sexual relations in a little more depth, we discover that the terms for them are set by policies and politics, including social norms and gender dynamics, national policies and international relations. More details

IDS Working Paper

Painful Tradeoffs: Intimate-partner Violence and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights in Kenya

IDS Working Paper 312 (2008)

Intimate-partner violence involves multiple violations of sexual and reproductive rights, with devastating impacts on the health and wellbeing of those affected. This paper is the result of an action-research collaboration between a Kenyan gender-based violence rehabilitation NGO and a research programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

HIV Illness Meanings and Collaborative Healing Strategies in South Africa

Social Dynamics: A journal of African studies 31.2 (2008)
IDS Working Paper

Streetwalkers Show the Way: Reframing the Global Debate on Trafficking from Sex Workers’ Perspectives

IDS Working Paper 309 (2008)

This paper documents action research and discussions on trafficking by Durbar, a network of 60,000 female, male and transgender sex workers in India. Durbar finds that the realities of trafficking as experienced by sex workers are very different from the myths. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sexuality Matters (Portuguese version)

IDS Bulletin 37.5 (2008)

The issue shows why sexuality matters. Drawing on the inspiring ‘Realising Sexual Rights’ workshop held at IDS in 2005, the resulting innovative articles here provide diverse accounts of sexual rights conceptions, mobilisation, and new approaches to implementation. This is a first for IDS – both to host such an event and to produce an IDS Bulletin on this theme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Development with a Body: Sexuality, Human Rights and Development

This book offers compelling insights into contemporary challenges and transformative possibilities of the struggle for sexual rights. It combines the conceptual with the political, and offering inspiring examples of practical interventions and campaigns that emphasize the positive dimensions of sexuality. More details

Changing Narratives of Sexuality - Concept Paper

This concept paper focuses on the politics of sexuality. Its focus is on the normative construction of heterosexuality in mainstream narratives of sexuality produced by institutions such as the media, the law, religion and the development industry; by cultural arenas such as popular music and soap operas, as well as for counter narratives produced by women themselves. More details

IDS publications on international development research

The Global Mapping of Pleasure

Collection of case studies by The Pleasure Project and the Realising Rights Research Programme Consortium. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sexuality Matters (Spanish version)

IDS Bulletin 37.5 (2008)

This IDS Bulletin addresses a theme that mainstream development has persistently neglected: sexuality. Over the last decade, development policymakers and practitioners have come to endorse a multi-dimensional approach to poverty, and growing attention has been placed on achieving greater freedom, wellbeing and human rights for all. 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 publications on international development research

Sexuality Matters (Arabic version)

IDS Bulletin 37.5 (2007)

Other translations available are: English; French; Spanish; Chinese; Portuguese More details