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  • Sources of social support include NGOs, health centres, local/national organisations, international networks, support groups, online communities, etc.
  • Asking for support looks differently for everyone (information, mental/emotional/physical support, etc.).
  • Best practices when referring to sources of social support include the creation of a support system and making information accessible and understandable.
  • Being informed about sexual health and reproductive rights, as well as social support sources, can be helpful both for you and for the people around you.


When it comes to protecting the fundamental Human Rights, the European Union refers to non-discrimination through the article 21, that goes as follows:

  1. Any discrimination based on any ground such as sex, race, colour, ethnic or social origin, genetic features, language, religion, or belief, political or any other opinion, membership of a national minority, property, birth, disability, age, or sexual orientation shall be prohibited.
  2. Within the scope of application of the Treaties and without prejudice to any of their specific provisions, any discrimination on grounds of nationality shall be prohibited. (Official Journal of the European Union C 303/17, Discrimination Eurofund – 14.12.2007)

But what happens if this article is not respected?

Seeking support when facing gender discrimination can look in a lot of different ways and can refer to mental or emotional support, legal issues, access to information, physical support, or other types of guidance.


Every country has its own institutions and organizations that are fighting towards the achievement of gender equality. Although these institutions and centres might function differently depending on the country, there are a few things that every country has in common: Local/national level

  • Health centres

Local health centres can be points of information and guidance when it comes to clarifying aspects related to sexual health or reproduction. Moreover, there are usually NGOs or associated programmes working with health centres and clinics, offering further legal/mental/emotional support through the process.

  • NGOs

If you are looking for support but might not know where to start, NGOs can be of great help. Try searching for feminist NGOs. NGOs working with the LGBTQ+ community, with the topics of sex education/sexual health/reproductive health and rights, etc. Search for the ones that are working with the topic that you need support with. These organizations tend to have a lot of resources on their websites from guides and toolkits that help you understand what you might be going through up to strategies on how you could find a support network or get access to specialised people or legal organizations that can accompany you in the process.

  • Activists and social educators

The work of activists and sex educators also represents a common way of disseminating information related to rights and support. This information is usually available in the online format through social media accounts, websites, blogs, social media groups and communities. Apart from offering access to information, it can also offer access to building a community and a support system. International level

Apart from the local institutions and organizations that are available when it comes to information and support in sexual and reproductive rights, there are institutions and international networks that are committed to achieving gender equality in all of its form at a global level. On their webpages you can also find materials, support groups, experts working with sex and gender equality and other resources.

These organizations and networks can be a starting point when explaining to children/teens the concepts of sexual and reproductive rights, what these organizations do, why it is important and how they can play a role in case of a vulnerable situation.

Having access to an international online community where people come from different cultural, social, religious, and geographical backgrounds can help put into perspective what human rights are and how they work in different parts of the world.

Some of these organizations are:

Some of the UN’s priorities include protection and prevention for women from all forms of violence (including gender violence), humanitarian actions and women led governance systems.

  • Association for Women’s Rights in Development (AWID)

This organization is an internationally established structure working towards gender equality and women’s human rights across the whole world. They support gender justice movements that turn into driving forces against oppression.

The goal of the Centre for Reproductive Rights is to use legal means to advance reproductive rights as fundamental human rights. This organization has strengthened policies and law related to healthcare, birth control, safe abortion, prenatal and obstetric care in over 50 countries.

  • Plan International

Plan International is working towards achieving equality and to advance human rights for children and girls all over the world. They tackle topics rooted in discrimination, vulnerability, and exclusion.

Being a worldwide movement, Amnesty International campaigns for the recognition of human rights from all over the world. One of their key activities focuses on fighting against violence against women and advocating for gender equality.

This institution is dedicated entirely to gender equality and its mission is to collect and analyse information on gender equality to help European states to implement gender-equality policies and fight against gender discrimination (Hasanagic, 2019).

These are a few examples of organizations and internationally recognized institutions that can offer information, support, and a community. Try talking to children/teens about their role and importance in today’s society and explain how these sources can be of great help when it comes to knowing about sexual and reproductive rights.


After an unprotected sexual contact, two 15-year-olds had a fight and stopped talking to each other. Weeks go by and the menstruating partner of the couple notices that their menstruation did not come during that month. They are too afraid to talk to their parents about it and too embarrassed to tell friends, fearing that they might judge them. After searching for online support, they came across the social media account of a local organization that works with sexual health and reproductive rights and decided to leave an anonymous message explaining the situation and asking for advice. The organization respected the anonymity of the person, offered information related to sexual health, contraception, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancies, and reproductive rights and asked the person what kind of support they needed. The organization then invited them to have a chat, asked if they wanted to test themselves for sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancies and offered emotional support throughout the process. When the results came back, they listed the options on possible next steps.

As any situation related to sexual and reproductive rights is a personal situation, it is important to avoid sharing information without the consent of the person in question. Unless the person is in danger, respect their privacy and wishes.

As a parent when you come across a situation like this, respecting the privacy of the child/teen is really important when it comes to them trusting your judgement. Try to offer your support and access to information without taking the situation personally or making it about yourself (like asking yourself if you did something wrong or how it would affect you). You could try asking them what they want to do. Avoid shaming and guilt tripping as it would possibly keep away information (either from the current situation or in the future) and not ask for help in future situations.

7.3.4. BEST PRACTICES Support system

Studies have shown that having a social support system can have a positive impact on a person’s overall mental health (Mental Health First Aid USA, 2020). Feeling understood or having the sense of belonging somewhere can combat feelings of loneliness and social isolation. This support system can be formed by peers, teachers/educators, online networks/communities, social educators, family members, etc. By having people that can offer support, children/teens can be encouraged to inform themselves, to discuss sexual or reproductive rights topics and to ask for help in case they would need it. Make information accessible and understandable

Try to make sure that the information that exists (websites, toolkits, games, brochures, info packs, manuals, checklists, etc.) on sexual and reproductive rights and support centres is accessible from everyone everywhere. This includes people from different socio-economic backgrounds, people from different religious backgrounds, people of different genders and sexual orientations, people with different abilities, etc.

Here are a few suggestions of how you can do that:

  • Language

Language and vocabulary have a valuable role when it comes to creating, understanding, and using resources. In order for the information to be understandable the chosen language has to be understandable for any kind of listener. If you are creating resources, you could try to avoid using scientific words (or make sure you explain them), explain everything step by step and offer an example that demonstrates the explanation.

As an educator or a parent, when explaining concepts and situations related to sexuality, and sexual and reproductive rights it is really important to call everything by its name. Call the body parts as they are, talk about possibly dangerous or confusing situations by keeping the words that describe the act and adapting the explanation and examples depending on the age of the listener. When talking about rights and support it is important that children/teens know the vocabulary, the name of certain acts or situations so that they can protect themselves and know when they should ask for help. This vocabulary includes, but is not limited to, words used for genitals, pregnancies, sexual activities, etc.


‌Hasanagic, A. (2019). 25 Organizations Fighting for Gender Equality. Human Rights Careers. Retrieved from https://www.humanrightscareers.com/magazine/organizations-gender-equality/.

Mental Health First Aid USA (2020). The Importance of Having a Support System. Mental Health First Aid. Retrieved from https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/2020/08/the-importance-of-having-a-support-system/.

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