Empowering Women or Pleasing Men?

Male views on female condom use.


Female condoms are under-utilized throughout sub-Saharan Africa. Programs have traditionally presented female condoms as a means of women’s empowerment. However, prevailing gender norms in sub-Saharan Africa assign sexual decision-making to men, suggesting that male acceptance is imperative for increased use. Winny Koster, Marije Groot Bruinderink and Wendy Janssens studied the experiences of 336 men and their perceptions of the female condom through 37 focus group discussions in Zimbabwe, Nigeria, and Cameroon. Both single and married men preferred using female condoms with stable rather than casual partners, and for purposes of contraception rather than protection from infections. In settings of higher HIV prevalence, the female condom was valued as a means to protect against HIV acquisition. Local context and the views of both men and women are important in designing campaigns to support female condom use.


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