Percent of adolescents who are confident that they could refuse sex if they didn't want it

The percent of adolescents reporting confidence that they could refuse sex if they did not desire it

This indicator is calculated as:

(# of adolescents reporting that they could refuse sex if they did not desire it / Total # of adolescents) x 100


Responses to survey questions on whether adolescents are “confident,“ “somewhat confident,“ “unsure,“ or “not confident“ that they could resist having sex when they did not want it

Evaluators may want to disaggregate by the following age ranges: 10-14, 15-19, and 20-24.

Surveys of program clients/participants or adolescents in the program‘s intended population

This indicator measures the level of confidence or “per­ceived self-efficacy“ of adolescents to refuse sexual ad­vances when they do not want to have sexual relations. A growing consensus claims that adolescent and youth SRH education pro­grams are most successful when they address social pressures that influence sexual behaviors. Many pro­grams include exercises and “role-plays“ on how to re­sist pressure tactics and to escape situations that may lead to sex, through negotiation and other tactics. Thus, the indicator can measure the effectiveness of such skill-based educational programs in increasing adolescents‘ self-efficacy with regard to resisting unwanted sexual pressures and advances. This indicator measures per­ceived self-efficacy, which may or may not correspond to actual responses to real-life situations.

Because responses to sexual advances are likely to be context specific, the preferred measurement approach is to solicit responses to various situations that adoles­cents might find themselves in. For example, the inter­viewer may ask respondents how confident they are in their ability to refuse sex with:

  • A person they have known for days;
  • A person they have known for months;
  • A person who offers them gifts;
  • A person whom they care about deeply;
  • A person who has paid for their school or train­ing fees and who demands sex; and
  • A person who has power over them, such as a teacher, employer, or coach.

Although one may be confident they could refuse sex if they did not want it, when put in a situation where they are being forced or asked to have sex against their desires, the reality may be quite different.  Evaluators must be mindful that it is human nature to want to appear to be or believe you are more confident and in-control than what may actually be the case. 

empowerment, adolescent, women's status, attitude, family planning, HIV/AIDS

Surveys indicate that for girls, the first ex­perience of sexual intercourse is often involun­tary (in some but not all developing countries). Forced sex (rape) is a form of gender-based vio­lence. Many girls are coerced into sex by older men who view younger partners as less likely to have an STI. Some men believe that sex with a virgin can cure them of HIV/AIDS.  Young girls say they lack the skills and self-confidence to refuse a more powerful and older male. Economic realities for many young girls makes refusing sex difficult and increases the likelihood that they will trade sex for money or gifts. In sub-Saharan Af­rica and other countries, these factors have led to new HIV infections among adolescent girls that are higher than those among boys and adults of either sex.