November 14, 2012
Mary Beth Hastings, vice president of the Center for Health and Gender Equality (CHANGE), writes in the Huffington Post's "Impact" blog that despite "the pervasive myth that no one wants female condoms," "[d]emand is increasing because female condoms provide men and women with something they want: more options when it comes to protecting themselves." USAID officials "were surprised to hear evidence of an unmet demand for female condoms," Hastings says, adding, "[W]hen presented with evidence to the contrary, USAID started talking with different institutions about meeting the demand." She continues, "To its credit, the U.S. government is a global leader on female condoms. But there is still room for improvement."
Hastings says U.S.-funded HIV prevention and family planning programs "should all include education about and access to female condoms." She adds, "Female condoms are an opportunity to promote women's rights as much as they are an opportunity to fight HIV, because they can and they do generate important conversations within couples and communities about love, protection, trust and power," and concludes, "That's what makes them so special, and so worthy of investment" (11/13).