This profile was prepared when Dorothy Aken'ova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2008.
The New Idea
Dorothy believes that current reproductive health discourse is too clinical and fails to recognize that its primary subjects are humans with rights and complex personalities and physiologies. As a result the emotional and psychological aspects of sexuality are ignored, and sexuality is treated as problematic. This reinforces the culture of silence that promotes social intolerance of sexual experiences, sexual rights, and sexual minorities. It also ignores the impact of emotional and psychological sexual dysfunction on reproductive health. Worried by the reluctance of existing reproductive health programs to address sexual rights and sexual pleasure in their methodology as well as the culture of silence that surrounds sexuality, Dorothy set up her own organization to implement sexuality education courses that incorporate sexual rights and the right to sexual pleasure in the syllabus. Dorothy believes that teaching sexuality education from a perspective of sexual rights will engage more people and make it easier for them to accept behavioral changes associated with safe sex. Her methodology encourages tolerance for sexual minorities, open and honest communication between intimate partners, value for different genders, and respect for the rights of vulnerable groups. By advocating for and teaching about an individual’s sexual rights Dorothy is helping women and marginalized groups protect their sexuality from exploitation and abuse. She is also helping couples achieve greater stability and satisfaction within their relationships, leading to reductions in intimate partner abuse.