If sex is about power, then…

By Jennifer Pope, Vice President for Sexual and Reproductive Health, HIV and TB, PSI

“Everything is about sex… except sex.

Sex is about power,” – Oscar Wilde


The above quote has stuck with me in the week since UNFPA’s Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem used it – a quote from poet Oscar Wilde – to open the International Conference on Family Planning’s Not Without FP Virtual Forum (Feb 2-3). 

If, as Wilde says, sex is about power, then:

  • … how can we deepen our understanding of the contextual forces that shape how consumers perceive their SRH?
  • … what more can we do to better support consumers to use their voice, choice and agency to make their health and life choices?
  • … how might we better address power divides to deliver gender transformative programming?

I’m pulling from PSI’s Not Without FP theme offer an answer: “She Leads. Together, We Respond.”

As PSI’s SRH Call to Action reinforces, and our consumer-powered approach to healthcare underscores, when we make space for her to tell us what matters to her, together we – the public health community, governments and consumers, themselves – can deliver solutions that meet her needs, her way. We can identify the barriers that block her ability to choose, and we can shift the perception of sex as power.

I left Not Without FP energized by how we can deepen our knowledge and approaches to best serve her and get us all closer to UHC and achievement of SDGs.

As expected, COVID-19 adaptations weighed heavily throughout the forum, with a significant focus on self-care and digital innovations shared by PSIers who represented us on the virtual stage (recordings linked for those who wish to re/listen):

  • SFH Nigeria’s A360 Young Designer Seun Tylor who authored our welcome letter, offering a first-hand take on how, when #SheLeads, we can deliver transformative adolescent contraceptive solutions.
I want to hear from you! how might you incorporate insights gained from Not Without FP  – such as self-care – into programs? Share your thoughts: jpope@psi.org.

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