Document Type



Institute for Educational Development, East Africa


This article makes the case that current conceptions of sexual health literacy have limited relevance to the Ugandan context because they assume that knowledge of unsafe sexual practices will lead to changes in behavior and lifestyle. Drawing on a longitudinal case study with 15 Ugandan schoolgirls in rural Uganda from August 2004 to September 2006, this study argues that despite being well-informed about the risks and responsibilities of sexual activity, poverty and sexual abuse severely constrained options for these young women. Although many believed in the value of abstaining from sexual activity until marriage, they engaged in transactional sex to pay for school fees, supplies, clothing, and food. Further, fear of sexual abuse, early pregnancy, and HIV–AIDS compromised attempts to embrace sexuality. The article concludes with implications of the study for research and policy on sexual health literacy in Uganda and other poorly resourced regions of the world.

Publication (Name of Journal)

Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: Studies of Migration, Integration, Equity, and Cultural Survival