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Project Saksham Sakhi

 

Overall Goal

A U-Respect Foundation - Cupid Limited operations research to promote the use of female condoms.

Program Objectives:

                                      
  • To position the Cupid female condom as a women’s empowerment tool among identified women beneficiaries
  •                                    
  • To sample about 1000 pieces of the Cupid female condom among beneficiary women in the 18-35 age group
  •                                    
  • To seek a one week follow-up feedback from women who have used the Cupid female condom and record the same in a structured questionnaire
  •                                    
  • To get feedback from a sample of male partners of women who have used the Cupid female condoms on their perceptions of the Cupid female condom
  •                                    
  • To assess the market acceptance of the Cupid female condom through discussions with medical stores

Program Outcomes

This section presents some outcomes at the end of the three month period.
Profile of participants:
Three groups of beneficiaries were reached:

     
  • Women working as sex workers (both bar-based and home-based): 136
  • Women from general population – housewives, working as domestic help, working in factories doing skilled work, running crèche facilities: 762
  • Men: Garage workers, auto rickshaw drivers, hotel boys: 152

 

Intervention With Women

 

In all, 73 sessions (17 with women working in sex work) were held among women in three months. Many women also approached either the peer educators or the project coordinator directly for some more clarification or a more one to one counseling at the end of the group meetings.   Topics of discussion included information about STI, HIV and pregnancy prevention.
While all women reported having heard of the female condoms in the past, only four women had physically seen and felt it in the past. For the majority, this was the first time that they were exposed to such a information dissemination session, and had physically seen and felt the female condom. Post the demonstration meeting, all women (100%) reported that they were given complete information about the Cupid female condoms and that they understood the product, its advantages and its use clearly. Post the sessions, all women requested for a sample which they would try within a week. Each woman was given only one trial piece. Of the 898 women who were given a trial piece only 31 women did not find the female condom comfortable to insert and therefore did not use it. The rest (96.5%) who did use it had a somewhat mixed reaction to the product. Some of the key findings are discussed below for 867 women who had used a trial piece.

Table 1: Feedback of women using a female condom (N=867)

Description

N(%)

  • Whether the Cupid Female Condom (CFC) was easy to use (Yes)
    418 (48.2)
  • Experience of disposing of the female condom Easy/comfortable to dispose
    795(93.0)
  • Reaction/response of partner on use of female condom
    Very supportive
    Quite supportives
    419 (48.0)
    447 (51.5)
  • Whether feel that CFC is a wonderful tool against pregnancies and sexual infections without having to depend on ones partner (Yes)
     
    867 (100.0)
  • Whether would use female condoms in the future for each sexual episode (Yes)
    524(61.0)
  • Whether feel that CFC is a wonderful tool against pregnancies and sexual infections without having to depend on ones partner (Yes)
     
    867 (100.0)

Post use feedback of the female condom revealed that less than half (48%) women found female condoms easy to use.  However most found it easy to dispose after use (93%).

With regard to partner support in use of female condoms, surprising it was heartening to note that almost all women reported their partners being supportive of their condom use.  Some qualitative responses generated are –

"I explained to my partner / husband, the need to use a female condom. I explained him all that the field worker had told us during our meeting. Since he was not ready to use a condom, I told him that I will use one and he readily agreed "

(Woman, housewife, aged 32 years, Digha)

                           
"I got a call from the client to go to his room at 11 am in the morning. After reaching there, I asked him if he had a condom with him, for which he replied he would have to go and buy one. But then I already had a cupid female condom with me so I wore one instead. My partner was very happy about it. Later, I did ask him how he felt about my using a condom, he said that he did not find any difference. It was not a hindrance in any way"

(Woman working as a sex worker, aged 42 years, Kalwa.)

                           

Future use: The pilot project has thrown up some interesting feedback that although less than half found use of FC convenient, about 3 out of 5 women said that they would willingly use it consistently in the future.        

Intervention With Men

While the peer educators were interacting with women from the identified communities and carrying out information dissemination workshops with them, men too heard about this initiative and approached U-Respect’s project coordinator for information about the female condoms. It was heartening to note the interest taken by men to understand the product. At the end of each of the men’s group discussions, products were sampled to them on request.  A total of 152 men were reached out to in three months.  In all, 103 (68%) men requested for a sample of the female condom to be given to their partners for trying out.

A follow-up visit at one week yielded the following qualitative feedback from men.

Most men appreciated the idea of the woman using a condom. Several men indicated that they had approached nearby medical stores to buys the female condom but were informed that they were not available. They wanted to know when this product would be sold through medical stores. During discussions with men, two medical store owners approached U-Respect’s project coordinator to find out more about the product and its cost. They were willing to stock the product in their shops. The boys working in the hotel also suggested that the product could be stocked by them in their hotels.

Some quotes from men follow

" My wife was excited to try out the new product when I showed it to her. At first, we were not sure about it but then, I realized that there was no difference in the feeling. It was quite nice "                                
                               

(Male, aged 35 years, auto driver, Kalwa).

                           
"I have a partner who always insists that I wear a condom. This time I took one for her to use and she was surprised. But she did not protest and used it. Now I can be free of this tension"
                               

(Male, aged 38 years, Kalwa)

                           

Connecting The Community With U-Respect’s Toll Free Call Centre

                               One of the value-added services given to all beneficiaries, both men and women, was a link to U-Respect Foundation’s toll-free call centre for sexual health and family planning. During the three months of the project as well as till End of September, U-Respect call centre received a total of 196 calls from men and women who were part of the piloted intervention. Queries ranged from request for more samples of female condoms to places where they could be available. Also two callers wanted to know whether they could buy them from the medical shops.                            

Lessons Learnt

This Some of the key lessons learnt from this intervention are as follows -                                

      
  • Overall, women are very optimistic about the product and are of the view that the cupid female condom is an effective means against both pregnancies as well as STIs independent of male condom use.
  • One of the reasons for most women finding it difficult to use the product may be due to the fact that they were only sampled one piece each, and this may have been sufficient to familiarize them to the product.
  • Male acceptance of the female condom mirror the general male approach to contraception in which men tend to put the onus of family planning on women.
  • Such piloted interventions should be on a larger scale to gauge community acceptance of the product completely. One suggestion may be to sample at least 5 pieces of female condoms per woman so that she gets used to the product so that the product acceptability can be understood better.
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