Angela Sibanda, columnist
The Zimbabwe National Family Planning Council (ZNFPC) is traveling to suburban Bulawayo to distribute condoms, mainly to young people, as part of its sexual and reproductive health campaign.
The week-long campaign was launched on Monday, a day after the commemoration of International Condom Day.
International Condom Day was launched in 2009 by Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF), the world’s largest HIV/AIDS organization.
The AHF strategically chose February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day, a day when lovers are likely to indulge in sexual activities and this year the commemorations take place under the theme ‘Always in fashion’.
Condoms are unique from other birth control methods in that they provide a barrier method that provides dual protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV, as well as unwanted pregnancy.
Statistics show that female condom use remains low in Bulawayo province.
According to the National AIDS Council
(NAC) Provincial Annual Report 2021, nearly 3 million male condoms were distributed compared to just 90,000 in Bulawayo last year.
Mr. Mission Gwafa, Marketing and Communications Officer for the National Family Planning Council of Zimbabwe for Bulawayo and Matabeleland North Provinces, said the reasons for low female condom use are based on beliefs and taboos. socio-cultural factors that place the onus on the man to obtain condoms and negotiate sex. .
“People choose male condoms because of social and cultural beliefs that it is a man’s duty to obtain condoms. And there is still a stigma around women buying and carrying condoms.
“Women depend on their male counterparts for condoms and even if they collect or buy them, they choose male condoms,” he said.
During the Family Council’s sexual and reproductive health campaign in Bulawayo province, the organization provided free services related to sexual and reproductive health and family planning and advocated for safer sex during the month of love.
Mr Gwafa said this year’s condom distribution targeted young people and they were going to youth centres.
“The main goal is to empower people, especially adolescents, about sexual rights and their choices by opting for safer sex. And during the campaign, we will explore how condoms intersect with all HIV prevention strategies.
The program for youth centers will extend to 15 youth centers in the western suburbs of Bulawayo where free services will be offered,” he said.
“The program aims to de-stigmatize condoms, empower young people to make good choices about sex, and improve access to free, quality condoms.
We will also provide free IUVD and Sayana Press contraceptives to all eligible and needy women and girls of reproductive age.
He also said the program aims to educate young people and women to distinguish between love and abuse that occur on days like Valentine’s Day.
“A dialogue on issues of sex, sexual rights and consent will be conducted daily in youth centers to raise awareness and inform about this and to try to empower young people to protect themselves against sexual abuse disguised as love, especially on Valentine’s Day,” he said. noted.
Campaigns started yesterday in Mzilikazi suburb and moved to Silwane youth center in Pumula suburb.
ZNFPC aims to distribute 30,000 male condoms and 5,000 female condoms during this week.