Female condoms work: once its use has been agreed, the woman can insert the condom and be protected against sexually transmitted infections, including HIV, and avoid mistimed pregnancy. Many men prefer them to using male condoms, and once her partner has agreed to their use the woman need not renegotiate it every time they have sex.
In spite of this it is the traditional condom for men that is still most widely distributed in developing countries. Supplies of female condoms are not always accessible or affordable, hampering efforts to promote their use. The UAFC Programme is designed to improve the demand for female condoms and their availability, while gaining the support of those who fund and manage sexual health programmes.
The Programme already supports the promotion and distribution of female condoms in Cameroon, Mozambique and Nigeria and plans to add other countries in Africa and Asia.
Rutgers strengthens the advocacy work of the national partners and manages the International Advocacy Platform for Female Condoms seeking increased political, financial and policy commitments from governments, donors and the major sexual health agencies.
Rutgers’s partners all bring important strengths to the programme: Oxfam Novib has great experience managing large programmes in different countries; partner i+solutions has expertise in supply chain management; and the Netherlands’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivers great political clout and contacts at all levels as well as the majority of the funding.
In country the programme delivers female condoms through social marketing, 6 million between 2009 and 2012. They are subsidised but are sold and vendors retain some of the sale price, encouraging these peer educators to promote them. Because the financial support of donors and governments will always be necessary, the advocacy work of Rutgers is vital to the programme’s success.