The Power of Female Condoms in Mozambique
Celia, a maternal and child health nurse in the Machava Area of Mozambique, knows what empowerment looks like. She sees it in the faces of the women she serves when she hands them a female condom.
Celia participated in a Pathfinder-led training course on family planning as a part of our Female Condom and LGBT Support project in Mozambique and has been an advocate ever since.
“I think the female condom is important because of independence. A woman gets to choose how and when to have sex, and with what partner. She doesn’t need to depend on the man to determine if they use a method of contraception.”
For the past year, Celia has worked at the Muhalaze Health Center, providing prenatal and postpartum care, access to family planning, and preventative medicine for vulnerable children. Celia believes that family planning is empowering, so she is excited by the increased interest she has seen in her community. Women are taking the initiative to come to the health facility to make a choice about their fertility and take control of their lives.
“A lack of family planning can lead to an unhealthy lifestyle for women,” Celia says. “Husbands want children, but a woman needs time to accompany her child’s growth. She cannot just go from one pregnancy to another.” According to Celia, women know this and that is why they come to see her at the health facility.
Through female condom empowerment groups like Celia’s, 4,919 women have gathered to discuss negotiating condom use with their partners, how to use it correctly, and how to make it fun. Wanting to learn more about options she could provide in the clinic, Celia participated in Pathfinder's training course on the female condom and quickly became a supporter. Celia became an advocate because it is the only female-controlled method for preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections such as HIV. Celia even organized a female condom empowerment group, where young women come together to share their experiences and support each other to use this method.
Through female condom empowerment groups like Celia’s, 4,919 women have gathered to discuss negotiating condom use with their partners and how to use the condom correctly. The groups also address the benefits of "dual protection," the practice of using both a condom to protect from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections and a second contraceptive method to better protect against unwanted pregnancy.
Celia’s hope is that if one woman from the group learns something from their discussions, she will go on and tell a friend or a family member and the information will spread.
Using the female condom is also about having fun, Celia explains. Her empowerment group doesn't just discuss the correct use of the condom, but also how it helps them to discover their bodies and achieve sexual independence.
“A woman's independence is not just about deciding what time they want to have sex or what partner to maintain a sexual relationship with. The female condom helps women discover what it is to be a woman, her being,” Celia says.
Celia speaks from her experience as both a nurse and a female condom user. To see an empowered woman, Celia only has to look in the mirror.
Read more about Pathfinder's work with female condoms in Mozambique.