Today, the 4th of September is World Sexual Health Day! Since 2010, the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) celebrates World Sexual Health Day (WSHD) in an effort to promote social awareness on sexual health and to ensure that sexual health issues are discussed everywhere across the world.
Last year, the Portuguese parliament recognized World Sexual Health Day as a national day in Portugal. This was a very important first step for recognizing sexual health and rights as a priority. With this proud announcement, Portugal became the pioneer of a potential worldwide movement.
Sexual health is a fundamental aspect of overall health and wellbeing. In a nutshell, it is defined as “a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well-being in relation to sexuality” (WHO, 2006a). The definition of sexual health cannot be fully understood without considering the underlying behaviours, outcomes, and human rights related to sexuality. Thus, you might want to read through the key conceptual elements of sexual health to get the full picture:
- Sexual health is about well-being, not merely the absence of disease,
- Sexual health involves respect, safety, and freedom from discrimination and violence,
- Sexual health depends on the fulfilment of certain human rights,
- Sexual health Is relevant throughout the individual’s lifespan, not only to those in the reproductive years but also to both the young and the elderly,
- Sexual health is expressed through diverse sexualities and forms of sexual expression,
- Sexual health is critically influenced by gender norms, roles, expectations, and power dynamics,
- Sexual health needs to be understood within specific social, economic, and political contexts.
World Sexual Health Day has been celebrated in 60 countries with a wide range of activities by different organisers around the world. Each year, there is a specific theme and slogan. This year’s theme is “Turn it on: sexual health in a digital world”. Information technologies are great tools for providing sexual health promotion especially to the groups that cannot be reached through traditional methods, but there are some issues regarding its use such as privacy, informed consent confidentiality, sexual harassment, sexual related cyberbullying in a digital context, etc. Thus, the reason behind choosing the theme is to raise awareness of sexual health and sexual rights in the digital space which became more relevant in our lives since the COVID-19 pandemic.
So, how one could celebrate World Sexual Health Day this year? WSHD is a global and voluntary celebration. Thus, the possibilities are limitless, and it is merely up to you. You can use #WSHD2021 on your social media posts to create public awareness about the issues underlined in this year’s theme, you can attend different organisations’ events for celebration and invite anyone who is interested, you can talk to sexuality education advocates to share their experiences with you, or you can find your own way of celebration. We advise you to check your local organisations’ websites and announcements to find out more about their events and promotions. We wish you a happy World Sexual Health Day!
If you think that you can benefit from professional support on this issue you can reach out here.
Seray Soyman is a Psychology graduate from Turkey. Currently, she is working as an intern at Willingness and doing her master’s on Clinical Psychosexology at Sapienza University, Rome. Seray’s research interests are sex-positive behaviour, sexual habits, LGBTQIA+ studies, and reproductive health.
WHO (2006). Defining sexual health: report of a technical consultation on sexual health. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/reproductivehealth/publications/sexual_health/defining_sexual_health.pdf
World Sexual Health Day. (n.d.). World Sexual Health. Retrieved August 19, 2021 from https://worldsexualhealth.net/world-sexual-health-day/