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Last week I was lucky enough to visit some of my new friends from the Matabeleland
Aids Council (MAC) AIDS Action group while they were at a Youth Venture Camp outside of
Singatsho and Tshume, the coordinators of the youth group, lead camps like this throughout the year to
train new peer educators from the various high schools in the area.
The Youth Venture Camp reminded me a lot of where I went to outdoor education while I
was in middle school. I remember what a great time I had, staying away from home for a whole
week. I could tell the youth at the venture camp were enjoying their week in a similar way.
About 10 guys and 10 girls gathered to spend the week with Tshume sleeping in bunk beds,
cooking meals together by a fire, and having workshops dealing with this particular camp's
These days we all know women's rights are important, but how often do we just overlook and accept
things because of habit, religion, or culture? For example, how many women do you know who
initiated a first date? Or how many men do you know who regularly cook dinner for the
family? Even here at the Camp, with all these gender-sensitive young men around, when it came to
lunchtime, I only saw my female friends doing the chopping and stirring!
The day I visited, the venture campŐs topic had turned to the issue of condoms. Like so
different arenas, when it comes to condoms the biggest inequality lies with the women. How many
you even know that there is a female condom? And why do you think the female condom is not as
used or thought of as an option?
The kids at the youth group had a number of ideas as to why the inequalities exist. The most obvious
explanation for why the male condom is more prevalent is because they are more easily
why is that the case?" Tshume probed the group to think deeper. Many hands were raised and some
realizations were shared. Here's some of what unfolded:
The male condom was the first made, and after many years it is finally being accepted. Also, when
comes to sexual issues, men have always had the final say. Even if a women wanted to take control
the situation, to be in charge of her body and health by buying a female condom, there are so many
obstacles in her way. For one thing, women (especially here in Zimbabwe) often don't have access to
money, the man is in control of the finances, so how can she buy the condoms? Even if she does somehow
buy a female condom, it is a common thought that a woman who has a condom must be easy. If a
woman were found to be carrying a female condom, people would think she was sleeping around.
The youth decided that the female condoms should be made available for free along with male condoms.
It seemed the most important step to be taken was to begin a dialogue on the subject, to start
educating BOTH men and women about the female condom and how it is used. It is only
and communication that something can begin to be accepted.