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UAFC at Women Deliver conference

Women Deliver Washington DC 7-9 June 2010

Maternal, Newborn and Child Health: if we act now and act together, we can deliver for women!

UAFC was represented at this conference by Yvonne Bogaarts and me, Annet Neijmeijer.
Women Deliver is the main conference on SRHR. 3500 participants attended the meeting. Therefore it was very important for UAFC to be there. We were able to emphasize the importance of the female condom in plenary sessions and forums, give extended information and demonstrations on the female condom by means of a permanent booth and participate in workshops. Furthermore the conference was an important event in terms of relation management.
The UAFC booth was a single issue booth, and filled with only specific information material on UAFC and female condoms. The condom display with the three different condom models was the main thing. I have given various demonstrations and with all the people visiting the booth there was personal contact. Hundreds of people have attended the demonstrations. It was very inspiring to see that people were very interested in the female condom, wanted to know all about the various models, en in general were aware of the advantages of the device. For many, the talks at the booth were a new inspiration to focus on the female condom in their own work again.
I handed out the new UAFC advocacy toolkit to six persons. They were people working in the field of advocacy on female condoms or in strategic positions to advocate. One of them has altered her speech for the conference workshop that she was going to give, and spoke particularly about the importance of female condoms. Therefore this became the main issue in the workshop.
I gave 3 interviews to different journalists. The Pullitzercentre shot a video where I give a female condom demonstration and have put it on their website. This video is now being promoted in blogs about female condoms on various websites and can also be found on our website.
People from many different countries told me that they are aware of the important role that the female condom plays in protection and empowerment, but that female condoms are just not available. The will to use them is there, as is the conviction of the importance of the female condom by workers in the field of SRHR etc. Their question is how we can make the female condom available in their countries as well. Unfortunately we have no direct solutions for them, but answer that we work on advocacy and seek funding and that they can support us by advocating in their own countries as well.
In the plenary session on integration Yvonne asked questions about the importance of sexuality education, which seems to fall off the radar screen but is a precondition for people to have safe sex. The second day of the conference dealt specifically with developments in contraceptive technologies, and Yvonne attended two of the plenary sessions (one chaired by Chris Elias from PATH and another by Bert Koenders). The female condom came up several times in an integrated manner in the various presentations.
Besides a number of plenary sessions, Yvonne attended two workshops. One dealing with the Safe Abortion Action Fund. This session was chaired by Joar Svanemyr, the Norwegian HIV-AIDS Ambassador and ally in the fight for female condoms.
The other workshop dealt with human rights and was chaired by Stephan Lewis, the former UN Special Reporter on Health. Yvonne challenged him during this session by saying that sexual rights as such had never made it into an official UN text like a declaration, resolution or outcome document.
Furthermore Yvonne organized (in cooperation with Jo Reinders of WPF) two sessions. One on sexuality education, and one where the carrousel game was played (a game to talk about one’s own sexuality). They were attended by resp. 40 and 20 participant.
Yvonne has been able to meet with several important relations and key decision makers.
All in all I would say that our presence at the Women Deliver conference has been useful and important. Many contacts have been established or reinforced, the female condom is presented in the booth to a large number of conference attendees and in sessions and workshops the issue of the female condom is emphasized.
Annet Neijmeijer


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