Today — 16 September — is Global Female Condom Day. Now into its third year, the annual initiative aims to increase awareness and access to female condoms worldwide. “This coordinated day of international action shines a light on a highly effective but little-known safer sex option,” said Beatrijs Janssen of Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC).
The female condom is the only available prevention option against HIV, STIs and pregnancy that is woman-initiated. “Female condoms give women the opportunity to negotiate condom use for protected sex,” said Serra Sippel, President of the Centre for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE). “They are an essential part of a strong gender strategy to end HIV/AIDS.”
Studies demonstrate that adding female condoms to male condom distribution efforts leads to increases in protected sex. Female condoms also provide receptive partners with a tool to initiate protection (especially important when male condoms cannot or will not be used). “Women and men across the globe have an urgent need for dual protection that could be addressed by female condoms,” said Kimberly Whipkey, Advocacy and Communications Specialist at PATH.
This year’s GFCD theme is “Dance4Demand”. Participants from 200 organisations from 60 countries will rise and dance, record their moves and advocacy messages, and share their experience through social media — #Dance4Demand; #GFCD2014; #femalecondoms.
“Today’s actions amplify the diverse voices clamouring for these tools and send a clear message to decision-makers at every level that female condom access must be expanded to achieve sexual and reproductive justice and turn the tide on the HIV epidemic,” said Whipkey.
BY CHRISTOPHER KELLY