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54th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
1-12 March 2010
Civil Society Statement

Expanding Global Access to Female and Male Condoms

The 1995 Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing articulated a bold framework for achieving women's empowerment with a strong focus on women's human rights, sexual and reproductive health, and gender equality. Fifteen years after Beijing, access to prevention information and services remains an urgent health and human rights issue for women and adolescent girls. Today HIV/AIDS is the leading cause of death for women of reproductive age globally,1) and approximately 215 million women in developing countries who wish to prevent or postpone pregnancy have an unmet need for modern contraceptives.2)

Female and male condoms are the only effective dual protection methods available to women, men, and young people that prevent HIV, sexually-transmitted infections (STIs), and unintended pregnancy. Building on the progress of Beijing, for the global community to achieve the Millennium Development Goals - specifically goals 3, 5, and 6 - both female and male condoms must be well-programmed and accessible to all people who wish to use them. This means female condoms must be made as available as male condoms and promoted equally in the fight against HIV/STIs and unintended pregnancy.

The female condom, moreover, gives women an important option for initiating protection and negotiating condom use. It has good acceptability, and evidence shows that when the female condom is promoted alongside the male condom, the total number of protected sex acts increases. 3,4  Female condoms are especially critical for women living with HIV and AIDS, who can use them to prevent pregnancy,  reduce risk of HIV transmission to partners, and pursue safe and satisfying sex lives. Despite the acute impact of HIV and AIDS and reproductive ill-health on women and girls, female condoms remain underfunded, largely inaccessible, and underused because of a lack of effective programming. 

As governments revisit and recommit to the Beijing Platform of Action, the undersigned non-governmental organizations call upon policymakers and donors to: 

  • Expand access to female and male condoms by dramatically increasing funding for their purchase, distribution, and program support at the country level. Successful female and male condom initiatives depend on a constellation of factors including steady funding, well-coordinated supply chain logistics, demand creation, and effective, large-scale programming. It is critical that governments and donors make coordinated, robust investments across procurement, distribution, marketing, and program support. In the case of female condoms, donors should redouble efforts to alleviate high per-unit costs to consumers. 
  • Ensure comprehensive, rights-based programming to facilitate female and male condom uptake and sustained use. Well-designed and executed programming is critical to increasing demand and uptake and can help overcome biases and misconceptions about condoms. Among many things, this includes training on reproductive anatomy, female condom insertion and male condom use, and condom negotiation skills - in a supportive, gender-sensitive, and empowering environment. Programs should also embrace a human rights framework, allowing women and men to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health free from coercion, stigma, and discrimination.   
  • Involve civil society, especially women's groups, in female and male condom policy and program decision-making. Governments and donors should actively seek civil society participation in condom policy and program decision-making. Community-based and non-governmental organizations offer valuable insights, resources, and gateways to populations most at risk of HIV, while helping to address social and cultural barriers to condom use. It is also critical that women and adolescent girls living with HIV are included in decision-making processes. 
  • Invest in research and development of woman-initiated and controlled prevention methods, such as additional female condom products, microbicides, and vaccines. People have different prevention needs and preferences, and adding additional safe and effective female condom products can offer women, men, and young people more prevention options from which to choose. While governments and donors must scale up investment in research and development of woman-initiated prevention technologies such as microbicides and vaccines, they must not overlook the importance of existing technologies such as female and male condoms in preventing HIV, STIs, and unintended pregnancy.      


( List in formation )

 
African Microbicides Advocacy Group (AMAG)
Africa, Regional

AVAC - Global Advocacy for HIV Prevention
United States

Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
United States

Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA)
United States

The Condom Project
United States

International Community of Women Living with HIV/AIDS
International

Population Action International
United States

Population Services International
United States

Pro-Link Ghana
Ghana

Society for Women Against AIDS in Africa
Africa, Regional

SUPPORT
International

World Population Foundation
Netherlands

World YWCA
Switzerland

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1 World Health Organization (WHO). 2009. Women and Health: Today's Evidence, Tomorrow's Agenda. Geneva: WHO

2 Singh, Susheela, Jacqueline E. Darroch, Lori S. Ashford, and Michael Vlassoff. 2009. Adding it Up: The Costs and Benefits of Investing in Family Planning and Maternal and Newborn Health. New York: Guttmacher Institute and United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

3 Hoke, Theresa Hatzell, P. Feldblum, K. Van Damme, M.D. Nasution, T.W. Grey, E.L. Wong, L Ralimamonjy, L. Raharimala, and A. Rasamindrakotroka. 2007. Temporal Trends in Sexually Transmitted Infection Prevalence and Condom Use Following Introduction of the Female Condom to Madagascar Sex Workers. International Journal of STD & AIDS 18:461-466.

4 Choi, Kyung-Hee, Colleen Hoff, Steven E. Gregorich, Olga Grinstead, Cynthia Gomez, and Wendy Hussey. 2008. The efficacy of a female condom skills training in HIV risk reduction among women: A randomized controlled trial. American Journal of Public Health 98(10): 1841-1848.

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The Prevention Now! campaign calls for increased access to existing methods, especially female and male condoms, in order to stem the spread of HIV, reduce unintended pregnancy, and improve sexual and reproductive health worldwide.
Support our work!

Center for Health and Gender Equity, International Secretariat for Prevention Now!
1317 F Street NW, Suite 400, Washington, DC 20004 USA Tel: 1-202-393-5930 Fax: 1-202-393-5937
www.genderhealth.org    www.pepfarwatch.org    www.preventionnow.net


Reproduced with permission - "Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)"

Center for Health and Gender Equity (CHANGE)
www.genderhealth.org

 

 

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