In a world where women’s empowerment and reproductive choice are critical, FC2, the female condom (or internal condom) has emerged as a powerful tool for women and girls to take control of their lives. Though not as widely used as male condoms in Nigeria, the female condom has potential as an alternative, and deserves a spotlight.
Pathfinder, with funding from the Female Health Company, has been implementing the FC2 Education and Promotion Project in seven African countries – Nigeria, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Mozambique. The goal of the project is to address the knowledge gaps and break down barriers to accessing FC2 information and services and reduce risky behaviors that could lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unintended pregnancies. The project focuses on ensuring the female condom is consistently available as part of the contraceptive method mix, engaging governments in supply and distribution, creating demand, and training providers on correct and consistent use of the female condom.
In Nigeria, our strategy is simple yet effective—to make information about FC2 and where to get it accessible to all, including men and boys, as part of the commitment to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment, care, and support. Pathfinder also advocates to governments for domestic resources for female condom programming and procurement.
Empowerment begins with information. By equipping healthcare professionals with knowledge and resources on female condom counseling and services, Pathfinder bridges the gap between providers and individuals seeking guidance. Pathfinder provides information about the benefits and usage of FC2, empowering individuals to make informed choices about their sexual health. This dual protection method against unintended pregnancies and STIs enhances overall well-being.
A recent analysis of the Nigeria Demographic and Health Survey reveals that risky sexual behaviors among young people, particularly among young women, are increasingly common. This is despite the existence of several programs in that same period that aimed to improve the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of young Nigerians. Comprehensive knowledge of HIV and AIDS is associated with safer practices, emphasizing the need for awareness about female condoms.
To address this issue, we engage young people in SRH discussions and provide them with the necessary knowledge and skills they need to protect themselves from unintended pregnancies and STIs, fostering open conversations and decision-making. Pathfinder produced animated videos showcasing the female condom as a way to normalize them and empower women to choose FC2. The videos, targeting young people, were promoted on social media and reached over 1.1 million users on Facebook and Instagram! Pathfinder also localizes female condom distribution and information through ‘edutainment,’ at sports and dance events.
Access to a full range of modern contraceptive methods empowers individuals to make choices about their own lives. Pathfinder believes in voluntary contraception as a means to exercise the fundamental human right of deciding when, if, and how many children they want to have. It means better health, increased educational opportunities for girls, and greater resources for families, communities, and nations.