HRC 42: UPR Statement on Portugal

Thank you, Mr. President. Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of Associação para o Planeamento da Família and the Sexual Rights Initiative.

A fundamental aspect of the realisation of sexual and reproductive rights, is ensuring that all individuals can make decisions over all aspects of their own lives. One way states fulfil this right is through the provision of comprehensive sexuality education for young people. However, Portugal’s on-paper commitment to CSE has not translated into implementation in the classrooms and sites where CSE is supposed to be provided. Inconsistent, changing and vague policies and programming on CSE has contributed to a devaluing and lack of recognition of the vital importance of CSE by all stakeholders - including teachers and other school staff. Teacher training does not include CSE as core and compulsory component, and there is little in-service support for teachers on CSE. As a result, most teachers don’t have adequate scientific and pedagogical training in this area and they are not supervised.

While the provision of CSE at schools is mandatory by law, there is no agreed curriculum and it is common for teachers to omit what they consider to be more contentious CSE themes and content. The negative effects of poor CSE implementation ton the level of knowledge and behaviour relating to SRHR are very serious, particularly as it relates to unwanted pregnancy, harmful gender norms and gender based violence, transmission of STIs and HIV.

Given this, we welcome both Finland’s recommendation to Portugal on CSE and Portugal’s acceptance of the recommendation. We call on Portugal to ensure that the review of the laws and policies relating to CSE and the independent evaluation of CSE programs called for in the recommendation, include opportunities for meaningful participation by other relevant stakeholders and experts  outside of the State, including feminist groups, SRHR organisations, young people and adolescents participation.