On Valentine's Day I was proud to make a presentation at an IDS event to highlight some of the value added of analysing sexuality and development.
Once you get past the giggles, the enormous value added of looking at the formation and consequences of sexuality and sexual roles becomes obvious.
For example, our Sexuality and Development Programme has shed light on the reasons for girl school drop out (menstruation related), on the drivers of lack of mobility (sexual control) and on how attitudes towards sexuality are formed (romance versus social deprivation--see the Pleasure Project for a good example of positive framing). All of these things are vital to key development priorities: mobility for entrepreneurship, school attainment for gender equality, and fundamental ways of influencing behaviour change in reproductive health (through understanding the drivers of risk and vulnerability).
In recent years there has been significant law reform which has supported the realisation of sexual rights, such as the overturn of the anti-sodomy law in India, however there has also been an upsurge of homophobia in many settings.
So the agenda is large and yet there are few researchers working in these areas. This is not because the returns are not likely to be high, but because researchers are disincentivised from working on these apparently frivolous areas.
Challenging the areas may be, frivolous they are not.