Before the May 2013 Women Deliver Conference in Malaysia, Girls’ Globe featured a story on female condoms. At that point, Path’s “Female Condom’s Are ___________” film contest was the topic at hand. During Women Deliver, I was thrilled to be present when Pathfinder International’s film “Female Condoms Are…Power. Protection. Pleasure” was deemed the contest’s winner. If you haven’t seen the film, it’s a beautiful story well worth the five minutes.
After attending the event, I had the chance to speak with The Universal Access to Female Condoms‘ (UAFC) Beatrijs Janssen about the organization’s work to increase access to female condoms worldwide. In honour of International Female Condom day, here are some quick facts from our conversation that we bet you did not know about the contraceptive:
- Female condoms have been on the market for over 20 years and are available at most drug stores, family planning centres, and in some places you might not expect…
- Like hairdressers. In Zimbabwe, Population Service International (PSI) works with hairdressers to make female condoms accessible to women in a space where they feel comfortable and visit often. The program empowers hairdressers to spread knowledge about female condoms while earning extra income from condom sales.
- They offer better protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) because they also cover the outer genital area.
- It’s quiet! One of the biggest misconceptions about female condoms is that they are noisy (think rustling a plastic bag). Fortunately, female condoms now are made with Nitrile (synthetic latex) to eliminate any sound during sexual intercourse.
Currently the F2C is the only FDA approved female condom and the most widely circulated, but there are a handful of other models and brands in development. In addition to spreading awareness of and encouraging the use of female condoms, the UN Population Fund, UAFC and PSI work together to make female condoms more accessible and affordable. As demand for female condoms rises and more brands receive approval, prices will inevitably reduce.
Zawadi Smartlove is the heart and face of the Female Condom Paper Doll Campaign. The paper doll template is used by NGOs across the world as an engagement tool, allowing workshop participants to visually express the need for female condoms. Learn more about the campaign here and Follow Zawadi on Twitter and Facebook to stay up to date.
To get involved with the discussion, follow the hashtags #GFCD and #femalecondoms on Twitter and check out this awesome resource on Why Female Condoms Matter.