ACCEPTABILITY: Associations and hair saloons get involved in UAFC project
The female condom becomes part of everyday life
It is 10 o’clock, at Cinquantex market. About ten peer educators belonging to the community based organisation named APAS (Association of People Affected by AIDS) go up and down through the market. With their demonstration models and sampled leaflets, they increase public awareness on the importance of the female condom. Approaching people individually or in small groups, they show a remarkable sense of contact. Their have an effective approach technique. It’s not easy to resist when they want to convince you. For example, “Good morning, can you spare me a few moments? We want to show you Protectiv’, the female condom”. Out of curiosity, people crowd around peer educators. Then, questions came from all sides.
However, women who are the beneficiaries of the product are shyer than the men. In public, they merely observe or nod. It is a natural inhibition? Or they are afraid of sexual taboo? It’s possible. In response and within the framework of the UAFC project, the Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social (ACMS) set up a network of nearly 76 female hair saloons and 36 CBOs in the Centre, Littoral, South West, North West and Adamawa regions. Hair saloons are places where women can express their self freely and friendly without any pressure: “Customers who trust us for their beauty, they also trust us when we present them the female condom and its benefits”, confided Irene Kubisa, owner of the hair saloon named Dame du 3ème millenaire de Douala. During their work, they give and explain the benefits of the female condom to their customers.
To convince people, many arguments are used in terms of quality (carry along heat, don’t need erection, can be carry eight hour before the action), in terms of efficiency (excellent tool for protection against STIs including HIV, resistant, cover all parts of the female genital organ, condom tested and approved,…) and in terms of cost (FCFA 100 to maintain health). Using their demonstration models, almost at hand, they do demonstrations of the good use of the female condom. As other owners of hair saloons, Irene is not satisfied only by sensitizing customers who come in their saloons. “Everywhere, in my neighbourhood, during meetings and trips, I always have my female condoms in my bag”, she explained. Hairdressers, associations and peer educators are unanimous on the fact that myths and prejudice about the female condom are better corrected through the interpersonal communication. According to them, a woman discovers at least one benefit to the female condom; she wants to test it again.