Every woman and man has the right to sexual and reproductive health. More and more women and men in developing countries have a need for family planning and HIV prevention. The Universal Access to Female Condoms (UAFC) Joint Programme was set up to answer this growing need. An added advantage of the female condom is that it is woman-initiated. Having more control over their own bodies and sexuality makes women less vulnerable.
Today the female condom is the only female-initiated prevention method that provides double protection – against both pregnancy and disease. Two hundred million women around the world do not have access to contraceptives and one third of all pregnancies are unintended (and many unwanted). In sub-Saharan Africa, where 61% of all new HIV infections occur among women, the female condom provides a method that can help to reduce these alarming numbers.
Female condoms have been around for more than fifteen years, yet most women cannot use them. New woman-initiated technologies such as microbicides will not be available for some years. Female condoms exist here and now, and studies have shown that users find them highly acceptable.
The current situation is that worldwide every year
200 million couples have an unmet need for contraception;
76 million unintended pregnancies occur;
20 million unsafe abortions take place;
170 million women are infected with STIs;
1.5 million women die of AIDS;
0.5 million women die due to complications during childbirth.
These facts, plus the conviction that the launch and usage of female condoms has lagged behind for fifteen years, have inspired UAFC Joint Programme to carry out a large-scale comprehensive initiative, setting up programmes in 2 selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.
The UAFC Joint Programme is a 4-year programme (2009-2011) that aims to:
decrease the number of unwanted pregnancies and, subsequently, decrease the number of maternal deaths (MDG 5);
decrease the number of STIs, including HIV (MDG 6);
promote gender equality and women empowerment (MDG 3)