Girl Power: The Impact of Girls’ Education on HIV And Sexual Behaviour (2006)

Education and HIV Series 01

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Publication Date: 2006
Author/Publisher: ActionAid
Language: English

Download: PDF

In this systematic review of over 600 pieces of research on girls’ education, sexual behaviour and HIV, ActionAid has shown that secondary education provides African girls with the power to make sexual choices that prevent HIV infection.

ActionAid finds that education gives girls power, reduces vulnerability and helps them make more independent, confident choices about their sexual behaviour.

The report shows that:

  • Schools and teachers are the most trusted source for young people to learn about HIV, and that school attendance ensures greater understanding of prevention messages. It also strengthens girls’ control, confidence and negotiating abilities to decide if to have sex, and when they do, whether to use a condom.
  • Peer group solidarity within school strengthens girls’ social networks and creates more responsible attitudes to sexual behaviour, safer sex and HIV.
  • Conversely, girls who drop out of school are more likely to enter into adult sexual networks, where older partners with more experience and power dictate the “rules” of sexual engagement.
  • Poverty and vulnerability to HIV are closely linked. More educated women have better economic and social prospects and consequently have more choices.


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