Till sidans huvudinnehåll

Program of ideas

This is the Compass, an ideas programme of the Swedish Association for Sexuality Education (RFSU). The Compass describes the values that guide RFSU’s work.

Page content

Klicka på länkarna för att ta dig till avsnittet i texten.


RFSU is a democratic member organisation whose mission is to contribute through knowledge, commitment and influence to a world where all people are free to decide on and enjoy their body and sexuality. RFSU is an organisation that works in a feminist, anti-racist and norm-critical way to make this a reality for everyone, regardless of power or resources.

The Compass describes the values that guide RFSU as we take a stand on complex societal issues; issues that cannot be solved with simplistic answers. To navigate a multifaceted reality, we need to understand the various structures that cut across our societies, how they interact and how they reinforce each other.

In a vibrant organisation, we need to constantly nuance, engage and listen to diverse perspectives – in an effort to move forward.

RFSU has three governing documents that are decided by the Congress

  • RFSU’s Statutes describe how the organisation is structured and how decisions are made.
  • The Compass is our programme of ideas that describes RFSU’s fundamental values.
  • Our strategic business orientation is the Sextant, which describes RFSU’s vision, strategies and goals. 

Freedom to decide about one's own body, identity and sexuality

Everything RFSU does is based on the conviction that all people are of equal value.

From this follows our vision: A world where everyone is free to make decisions about their own body and sexuality. This includes the right of everyone to identify themselves and to choose their own relationships. These rights are absolute and should never interfere with someone else’s self-determination or freedom of action.

RFSU believes that everyone has the right to identify themselves, and therefore their own gender. There are many genders, which are expressed and perceived in diverse ways. The right to be oneself applies regardless of gender, gender identity, gender expression or prevailing norms.

Every person also has the right to decide whether to have sexual relations, how, when and with whom. All relationships and sexuality shared with others should be voluntary and reciprocal.

All people have the right to make decisions regarding their own reproduction, i.e. whether or not to have children, when and how many. Everyone should also be able to take care of their children and raise them in a safe environment. One person’s desire to have children may not interfere with another person’s bodily autonomy.

People’s lifelong dreams about relationships or family are different. Societal norms and legislation must afford all people the freedom to form their own relationships and families. RFSU wishes everyone to be able to create the relationships and families they want.

Sexual and reproductive justice for all

The realisation of sexual and reproductive rights for all requires sexual and reproductive justice. Limiting norms, lack of resources, hierarchies and discrimination are barriers between formal rights and the people who benefit from them. Sexual and reproductive justice means working actively and consciously to overcome these obstacles.

Power structures cut across our societies and interact with and reinforce one another. They affect people’s freedom to make decisions about their bodies, their sexuality and their relationships. Therefore, an understanding of power that takes into account several dimensions simultaneously is required. RFSU wishes to draw attention to how power is distributed, both among and within groups of people.

RFSU believes that those in power and decision-makers should take responsibility for ensuring that people’s sexual and reproductive rights are protected, respected and realised. Welfare should be organised in line with freedom of choice and people’s needs.

Those of us who face discrimination and restrictive norms should be involved in determining what change is needed. This is true in RFSU, as well as in all parts of society.

Desire at the heart of the matter

RFSU’s work is grounded in the realisation that sexuality is a key part of what it means to be human.

RFSU’s philosophy is to view sexuality as a positive force in people’s lives, affecting their well being and health. The ability to experience pleasure and enjoyment in relation to oneself and others is central. RFSU works to ensure that everyone has the freedom to feel and express desire.

RFSU believes that it is the right of all people to be able to explore and enjoy their sexuality, on their own terms and throughout their lives. People are turned on by different things. The fact that each person experiences desire differently is a natural and good thing, as long as it is voluntary and reciprocal.

RFSU seeks to affirm this promotion and positivity not only of sexuality and relationships, but also of knowledge and engagement. Desire can be found in interpersonal relationships, in activities we undertake and in various forms of engagement and participation.

Knowledge is power

RFSU believes that knowledge is essential for everyone to be free to make decisions about their body and sexuality. Knowledge is diverse and can consist of research (evidence and other scientific evidence), as well as proven experience and practical skills.

For RFSU, learning and the creation of new knowledge is a collective movement, characterised by participation, dialogue and humility in the face of the fact that we will never be fully trained. RFSU wants everyone to have equal opportunities to participate in learning processes.

RFSU recognises and responds to the fact that knowledge is not created in a vacuum but within the framework of prevailing social norms. This means that people's knowledge is valued differently, and that we need to take a critical approach to knowledge through the prism of power.

Having knowledge about one's body, sexuality and relationships, about one’s rights and about how norms affect sexuality, provides more opportunities to make independent decisions on important issues. Knowledge enables people to take control of their lives and increase their empowerment. Therefore, RFSU believes that all people have the right to high quality sex education.

Knowledge is also fundamental in bringing about social change and a prerequisite for people to organise for their rights with others.

Democracy and free civil society

A free and democratic society is essential for people to fulfil their sexual and reproductive rights. Fundamental freedoms such as freedom of association, freedom of assembly and freedom of expression, including freedom of the press, are indispensable in a functioning democracy. A democratic society is also characterised by transparency and functioning institutions, such as an independent judiciary.

RFSU is committed to strengthening democratic space and free civil society.
A vibrant and free civil society is central to democracy, as social change begins when people come together and organise for their rights. The experience and knowledge of civil society also plays an important role in shaping sustainable societies.

RFSU stands side by side with activists around the world in promoting sexual and reproductive rights and defending democracy and free civil society. RFSU is part of a global movement in which we co-operate with, and learn from and strengthen each other.

Working for sexual and reproductive rights is based on people being able to organise themselves freely. This should be done in solidarity and collaboration with the people affected. When RFSU broadens participation, we learn and become more relevant.

Our vision calls for sustainable communities

In a sustainable society, people have their needs met without jeopardising the lives of future generations. For RFSU, it is crucial to weave sexual and reproductive health and rights into the broad tapestry of sustainable development.

Only a sustainable and peaceful society creates the conditions for everyone to have full control over their own body and sexuality. RFSU believes that this relationship also applies in reverse: a society that protects sexual and reproductive rights is a more sustainable society.

For everyone to be free to make decisions about their body and sexuality, economic inequality needs to be made visible when identifying problems and solutions. RFSU believes that poverty can only be eradicated when people have power over their own bodies and sexuality.

Climate, natural and environmental crises are urgent, and collective concerns that threaten the most basic living conditions of people on the planet. It goes without saying, therefore, that these environmental crises are about human rights and that, as such, they involve sexual and reproductive rights.

No sustainability issue can be solved without challenging the power structures and inequalities that permeate our societies. We need to mobilise resistance to the crises shaking the world. To succeed in this endeavour, equal and equitable societies are essential.