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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This is the cover to IDS Bulletin 481, 'Sex Education in the Digital Era'.

Sex Education in the Digital Era

IDS Bulletin 48.1 (2017)

Exploring sex and sexual relationships is an important part of adolescence, and therefore sex education should have a central role in adolescent emotional development as well as dealing with crucial public-health issues. More details

This is the front cover to IDS Rapid Response Briefing 15, 'Is Porn the New Sex Education?'

Is Porn the New Sex Education?

IDS Rapid Response Briefing 15 (2016)

Over the past 15 years, internet pornography has become the predominant channel through which young people learn about sex, not just in the developed world, but increasingly in developing countries too. In many developing countries, traditional gatekeepers of sex education, such as governments, religious leaders and parents, still attempt to keep sexuality out of the public sphere. More details

This is the cover of the Sexuality and Development Workshop Report,

Experiments in using Drama and Theatre to look at Sexuality and Oppression

As part of the Sexuality and Development Programme at IDS, a project was undertaken to explore the application of drama and theatre to research into sexualities. Three workshops were undertaken in Uganda, India and UK to work with different groups working in the areas of gender and sexualities. More details

This is the cover to the report 'Resue and Real Love: Same-sex Desire in International'.

Rescue, and Real Love: Same-sex Desire in International Development

IDS Report (2015)

Fifteen years ago, there was little space within international development policy circles within which we could talk about sexual rights, desire or pleasure. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Putting the Law in its Place: Analyses of recent developments in law relating to same-sex desire in India and Uganda

This collection of essays has been jointly produced by Sexuality Policy Watch and the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme. More details

IDS publications on international development research

Sexuality and Social Justice: A Toolkit

This free interactive toolkit documents the learning from the Sexuality, Poverty and Law Programme at the Institute for Development Studies. More details

This is the image of the report, 'Pornography, Pleasure, Gender and Sex Education in Bangladesh'.

Pornography, Pleasure, Gender and Sex Education in Bangladesh

Over the past two decades Bangladesh’s capital has grown from a small city to a large urbanised space. Such rapid urbanisation and social transformation has created unintended consequences that have implications for gender, power, sexual relationships and health. More details

Evidence Report 55 Front Cover

Literature Review on Sexuality and Poverty

IDS Evidence Report 55 (2014)

This review contributes to the larger Sexuality, Poverty and Law Theme of the Accountable Grant, which aims to produce evidence-based, practical options for activists and policymakers for strengthening legal protection of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersexed, questioning people and for sexual rights more generally. More details

Evidence report 53 teaser image

Sexuality and Poverty Synthesis Report

This report synthesises learning from these audits and is part of a larger project that focuses on understanding the links between sexuality, gender plurality and poverty with the aim of improving socioeconomic policy and programming to support people marginalised because of their sexuality. More details

This is the cover for IDS Evidence Report 49, 'Sexuality and the Law: Case Studies from Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal and South Africa'.

Sexuality and the Law: Case Studies from Cambodia, Egypt, Nepal and South Africa

IDS Evidence Report 49 (2014)

This paper provides a synthesis of five case studies on the relationship between sexuality and law. More details

This is the image of IDS Bulletin 45.1, 'Undressing Patriarchy: Men and Structural Violence'.

Undressing Patriarchy: Men and Structural Violence

IDS Bulletin 45.1 (2014)

It explores the shifting field of men and masculinities and how often conflicted engagements with the feminist project of redressing gender inequalities might be radicalised through a deeper analysis of patriarchy and our relationship to it, as well as by linking it to other struggles for sexual and human rights, or social justice. More details

Policy audit: a heteronormativity audit of RMSA - a higher education programme in Indian schools

Policy Audit: A heteronormativity audit of RMSA - a higher education programme in Indian schools

IDS Evidence Report 47 (2013)

This report shares the findings of a sexuality and gender audit of a national government programme to strengthen secondary school education in India More details

Image teaser for ER44

The Implications of the Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 on Uganda's Legal System

IDS Evidence Report 44 (2013)

Uganda’s Anti-Homosexuality Bill 2009 (AHB or the bill) was controversial right from the time of its inception. More details

This is the image for Undressing Patriarchy: Redressing Inequalities.

Undressing Patriarchy: Redressing Inequalities

Patriarchy may be seen as an old-fashioned term with little relevance to current work on gender, yet these kinds of questions motivated participants to get excited about the notion of ‘Undressing Patriarchy’ and inspired them to draft background papers and to travel across the world to take part in this conversation. More details

Image Teaser for ER41

'Marriage Above All Else': The Push for Heterosexual, Nuclear Families in the Making of South Africa's White Paper on Families

IDS Evidence Report 41 (2013)

This report comments on the policymaking processes that led to the development of the White Paper on Families as it exists in its current iteration (November 2012). More details

IDS publications on international development research

Key Issue Guide: Heteronormativity

This Eldis Key Issue Guide is a concise resource on the concept of heteronormativity, its usefulness for development thinking and the and the ways in which it impacts upon gender, LGBT rights, economic justice, health care, human rights and law. More details

cover of publication: Sexuality and Development: An Annotated Bibliography

Sexuality and Development Programme: An Annotated Bibliography

This is an annotated bibliography that has been put together by the IDS Sexuality and Development Programme. More details

Image teaser for Evidence Report 23

From Sex Work to Entertainment and Trafficking: Implications of a Paradigm Shift for Sexuality, Law and Activism in Cambodia

IDS Evidence Report 23 (2013)

This case study describes and examines the impact of the changes brought about by the new legislation in Cambodia against sex work. More details

Image teaser for Evidence Report 21

Policy Audit: Social Protection Policies and Urban Poor LBTs in the Philippines

IDS Evidence Report 21 (2013)

LGBT discourses worldwide have tended to focus on marriage equality at the expense of other equally pressing but sometimes ‘less sexy’ concerns such as gender-based discrimination and violence, and poverty among sexual minorities. More details

Image Teaser for Evidence Report 13

Development, Discourse and Law: Transgender and Same-Sex Sexualities in Nepal

IDS Evidence Report 13 (2013)

This report presents research conducted in Nepal between November 2012 and January 2013 aimed at exploring the legal, social and economic context pertaining to sexual and gender minority rights. More details

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