16 Days: rural Zim women welcome female condoms

In an effort to help and empower rural women on issues to do with their reproductive health and rights, the Women and Aids Support Network (WASN) has re-launched the female condom in Gokwe, 350 kilometres south west of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

By Robert Tapfumaneyi

In an effort to help and empower rural women on issues to do with their reproductive health and rights, the Women and Aids Support Network (WASN) has re-launched the female condom in Gokwe, 350 kilometres south west of Zimbabwe’s capital Harare.

Speaking to more than 500 women who have gathered at Gokwe Hotel to witness this noble event, doctor for Midlands Province Dr Angeline Mapanda, said the re-launch of the female condom comes at the right time as we are in the period 16 days of activism against gender-based violence and women should use the female condom to strengthen their relationships.

“Credit has to be given to Women and Aids Support Network for the work they been doing since 1995, when they embarked on a fact finding mission and led in teaching women on how to use the female condom correctly. This re-launch is another step in the right direction as this will help women in the fight against HIV, and family planning as well,” added Dr Mapanda.

Mary Sandasi, director of WASN, said when the female condom was first introduced to rural women in Gokwe young women, many of whom are now mothers, had been left out and so had lacked this information.

“It was something that was overlooked as young women were sidelined when the female condom was launched some years back and today we see it necessary, as we re-launch the female condom, to include both young and old women as it will help them when it comes to having safe sex with their partners” said Sandasi.

Condom promoters in Zimbabwe suggest that married women can use the female condom as a means of child spacing although married women are often afraid to ask their husbands to use a condom or to use one themselves since this implies they suspect their husbands of infidelity. However, women attending the launch said female condoms have empowered them as they are now better able to negotiate for safer sex in their relationships.

“When I brought the condom home my husband’s reaction was sceptical, he thought I wanted to be promiscuous, but after a lot of explanation and the use of family planning pamphlets he accepted it and he now enjoy sex more using a female condom,” said launch attendee Grace Gumbo.

Also present was commercial sex worker Maggie Moyo. She said gone are the days when her clients can demand sex without protection as now she can use the female condom as a way of protecting herself without asking for permission.

“Men used to abuse me by demanding unprotected sex and this put my life at risk but with HIV raging havoc in our daily lives I now use the female condom without fear of contracting other diseases such as STIs and the HIV virus. Those who don’t want it can take their money elsewhere,” said Maggie.

According to WASN the uptake of the female condom remains low compared to male condoms as women fail to negotiate for safe sex particularly in rural areas.

The re launch was also attended by traditional leaders and some men to show support to women.

COMMENTS

WORDPRESS: 2
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    eddington Mhonda waBaKwena 5 years

    Thanks for such coverage as a man showing support and appreciation for women’s endeavours. This is something which rural grassroot women were appealing for the female condom to be available. This is back then in the late 1980s women in the then Radio Listeners’ Clubs aka Development Through Radio on ZBC’s Radio 4 (covering Tsholotsho, Filabusi, Esigodini, Mhondoro,Seke Manyame and Chikwaka in Goromonzi).
    Men and young men need to be more informed about the total benefits of this device to both women and men. Vana ambuya/anaasekuru pamwe po; Ogogo/labokhulu njalo