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Youth Statement at International Platform Meeting 6/7 October 2009

Youth Statement at the International Platform Meeting on
Universal Access to Female Condom
6 – 7 October, 2009 Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Delivered by Emily Karechio

It’s a great honor to be addressing the members of the International Platform on Universal Access to Female Condom on behalf of the youth. I’am heartened by the emphasis of Universal Access of female condom, not only to the adults but also to the young person.
Female condom is one of the contraceptive measures used by young people. The following are some of the challenges the youth face to access the female condom;

Most of the young people engage in unprotected sex due to shyness of accessing the condoms in the shops, in the fear of what their peers and the older people would think of them.

According to ILO data, of the 186 million people that are unemployed, an astonishing 47%, or 88 million of them are youth between 15 – 24 years. With the cost of the female condom being high or not even accessible in the shelves, the young people cannot afford it and hence they will opt to use the male condom or at all not use any protection. Young women in this case have a challenge where they have to request their unwilling partners who most of the times are older than them to use the male condom.
Our research among the young people show that condom availability programs encourage sexually active teens and young adults to use condoms more often and more consistently than do their sexually active peers who are without condom availability programs.

In some cases, the women wash the condom, hang it to dry and reuse it again in another intercourse. This has led to the spread of STIs and HIV/AIDS. The women reuse the condoms because they cannot afford them due to the high cost. Others reuse the condom due to lack of knowledge that the condom can tear while washing or during the intercourse. More sex education is required as its emphasized below:
“So many young women are afraid to use the female condoms because they do not have good counseling programs..” Nishadi, OIYP, Action Partner

Youth are requesting different types, different colors of female condom just as the male condom. Availability of different designs of the female condom would encourage many young to use it.
Female condoms that are comfortable for the women in relation to culture;
“ I have had a little discussion with young people about the design which was not conclusive, some said the design is perfect and other said it can be improved, you know we have that culture practice of labia elongation which still exist in our culture and some girls reported me that the female condom with its current design is uncomfortable when they have respected that cultural practice. I think the designers should do some more research and may be some consultations just to provide good product to all the communities in need which are culture friendly.”
Edmond Baganizi, OIYP, Action Partner, Rwanda

“To date - many women are still unaware about the existence of female condom still afraid to use. The size of the female condom is toooooo scary for them - they think it will get "sucked" inside their stomach....
Their partners do NOT want them to use the female condom - as it gives them no pleasure
Many women still do not have access to the female condoms.”
Sylvia Chad, OIYP, Action Partner, Fiji

We the young people feel that if female condom is readily available to every woman, then it will provide the opportunity for the women to actively protect themselves from HIV, unplanned pregnancies and STIs. It’s a method they can choose and initiate. When (young) women can protect themselves from HIV infection and other STI’s, unwanted pregnancies they will have an increased sense of self- worth. This could prove to be one of the most important elements in fighting the AIDS epidemic.

We call the Governments and developing partners (donors) to play a lead role in purchasing female condoms in bulk, having them available at affordable prices, and generating awareness of their benefits. This will help make female condoms accessible and used by many women.

I wish to thank you all for your support in making female condom accessible to every woman regardless the age.

For more information, please contact; Emily Karechio, Action Partner, Kenyan Oxfam International Youth Partnership

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