Hairdressers in Cameroon are not merely hairdressers – they are front runners of sexual and reproductive health. These hairdressers have been trained to educate their clients about female condoms and to sell them. This is highly necessary as Cameroon has high unwanted pregnancy rates and HIV prevalence is over 5%.
Women in Cameroon spend about two hours at their hairdresser’s, sometimes every week. For women, buying female condoms at their hairdresser’s is a win-win situation: they are informed about the correct use of female condoms and how to talk to their husbands about them. If they experience any difficulties with the female condom they can return to their hairdresser’s for additional advice. Also, nobody will be suspect them when going to the hairdresser’s to buy condoms as going to the hairdresser’s is part of every day life. And most importantly, they can use the female condoms to have safe and pleasurable sex.
Not only female hairdressers sell female condoms. Men are also interested in this protection method that despite its long existence is available now for the first time in many places in Cameroon. Barbers have been trained to talk to their clients about the benefits of the female condom: its soft feel, the lubrication, the possibility to insert it well in advance of sexual contact – less pressure for the man at the supreme moment. No wonder men are interested to try the female condom!
And the hairdressers? They are proud to be part of this project. They know, sometimes from personal experience, what it means to have an unwanted pregnancy or to get HIV. There is an extra benefit: they make some revenues from the female condoms they sell and spend them for example on a small television for their salon or on refurbishing their salons – to attract more customers.
For the large-scale female condom programme in Cameroon UAFC Joint Programme works with the Association Camerounaise pour le Marketing Social (ACMS)