Netherlands to invest in pioneering role in sexual health

Girls being forced to marry older men, HIV infections and AIDS, unwanted and teenage pregnancy: in many developing countries these are everyday problems. They lead to both personal suffering and economic damage, because they stop young people from developing. ‘When these things happen to young people, it destroys their future,’ said development minister Lilianne Ploumen. To help young people become more resilient, the minister is forging new partnerships with Dutch NGOs. A total of €215 million is being made available over the coming five years.

In the Netherlands it is perfectly normal for children to be taught to practise safe sex. ‘We want our children to discover their own sexuality in a safe environment,’ said the minister. ‘With a partner of their own choosing and under no pressure to rush things. Unfortunately there are many places in the world where this isn’t possible. Girls are being forced to marry adult men at an increasingly young age. Young people are becoming sexually active without knowing the dangers of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. I want to stop that. So we’re investing heavily in these issues.’

The Netherlands plays a pioneering role internationally with regard to the relationship between sexual health and development. ‘Our pragmatic approach has received a great deal of praise,’ said Ms Ploumen. ‘Our partners have proved they can play an important role in addressing taboo subjects. In 2014 Dutch programmes reached more than 11.5 million young people, providing them with information on sex, HIV, pregnancy and contraceptives. And 1.3 million people started treatment for HIV.’

To promote sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), particularly for young people, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is forming seven partnerships with Dutch consortia, led by the Aids Fund, Cordaid, Plan Nederland, Rutgers, Save the Children, the Dutch postage stamp charity Kinderpostzegels and Terre des Hommes. The partners were selected following a careful assessment by experts from the ministry and elsewhere.