The NAPWHA National Network of Women Living with HIV or 'Femfatales' is a policy and advisory network to the NAPWHA Board. As a national woman’s network in Australia we identified key areas of work to focus on. The area of Sexual and Reproductive Health and Well-being incorporating the female condom FC2 has been a main focus for several years and culminated in the current FC2 postcard campaign titled “Give your vagina a choice”.
This work became a priority after speaking at an earlier UNIFEM now UN young woman’s conference in Sydney. It was concerning to discover the limited awareness and information across the audience of the female condom, specifically FC2 and since female condoms have been widely used for protection against unintended pregnancy, STIs and HIV outside Australia for many years.
As a national woman’s network we listened and decided to take action. We utilised our logo name Femfatales and created purple and red T-shirts with the slogan “Give your vagina a choice”. The network was unanimous in our decision to name the vaginas as we were tired of being an invisible minority where in Australia 80% of the HIV positive populations is MSM and the voices of women who live with HIV are often surrounded in silence, secrecy or shame.
Next we ran another small but successful campaign with joint funding from NAPWHA and Glyde which enabled us to distribute 1,000 FC2 on World AIDS Day 2011 in conjunction with a network media release to highlight the issues around availability, affordability and accessibility across Australia with the female condom (FC2).
The next opportunity came with the holding of the first Sexual and Reproductive Health Conference late in 2012. In partnership with two mainstream women’s health associations we submitted a poster 'Barriers to a barrier method: the Female Condom and Sexual and Reproductive health and rights in Australia' promoting the FC2.
A recommendation to the Australian government and state and territory governments that they incorporate the female condom into their sexual and reproductive health strategies was issued for the Melbourne Declaration. This request for affirmative action was further demonstrated by the NAPWHA women’s network Femfatales in the design and production of 5,000 postcards. Using a discreet graphic and the tagline “Give your vagina a choice” with clear facts and a request to the minister for health, to support all woman in their sexual and reproductive health choices by making the FC2 more affordable and available within Australia.
Please join us in widely distributing the postcards from now until the International AIDS Conference happening in Melbourne in July 2014. Throughout this conference there will be the opportunity from within the women’s networking zone (WNZ) for anyone to fill in a postcard, drop it into the postbox and show your practical support towards this quest of equity for women around their sexual and reproductive health choices.