It has been over a decade since the female condom was introduced in the world
market and up to now, it is the only available female-oriented method of preventing sexually
transmitted diseases as well as pregnancy. It was invented to supplement the male condom,
and it was praised as the best thing to help women gain control over disease protection. Being
the major killer, HIV and AIDS, amongst women in the reproductive age bracket and
approximately 75% of women globally having to use unprotected sex (Halperin et al, 2011).
Therefore, the objective of a Female Health Company to commercialize the female condom
in India, Africa and Latin America would prove to be a sacrosanct mission if it lives to see the
light of the day. However, there is a myriad of challenges that may hinder the expansion plan
as well cultural barriers as discussed below.
To begin with, the expansion project would be curtailed by the low priority given to
female condoms in India, Africa and Latin America. From the Reproductive Health
Interchange’s report, approximately 1.3% of the total condoms procured by global donors are
female condoms. Furthermore, in the year 2010, 99.3- percent of the condoms purchased by
the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) to distribute to developing countries, mostly
found in Africa and Latin America, were male condoms with only 0.7% being female
condoms (Halperin et al, 2011). This is a clear indication that female condoms are less
preferred compared to male condoms. Therefore, competition from male condoms would
hinder the intended expansion mission.
Consequently, the expansion plan would be slowed down by the relatively high cost
of production associated with the female condoms. This creates a vicious cycle of parameters
which might derail the expansion plan. Due to financial constraints in Africa, India and Latin
Female Health Company
America, it would be hard for the respective national governments to procure female
condoms leaving a significant number of potential users oblivious to this commodity.
Additionally, illiteracy levels are astonishingly high in these target markets making it hard for
the Female Health Company to promote female condom’s uptake (Halperin et al, 2011).
For a Female Health Company to penetrate into these untapped markets (Africa, India
and Latin America). There is the need for concerted efforts from all stakeholders to create
awareness in these continents that the FCs are user-friendly, a viable tool to prevent STIs as
well as pregnancy. The funding issue ought to be looked at, as the economies of these
continents cannot support heavy investments into relatively expensive female condoms. All
these factors coupled together reduce the demand for female condoms hence making it hard
for female health companies to invest in these new markets.
A female health company eyeing to venture into the above-named markets cannot
escape dealing with certain cultural barriers in its quest to promote this product. Precisely, in
the African continent men have been accorded the utmost rule over women as well as making
critical sexual decisions. For instance, in the Republic of South Africa, female condoms are
part and parcel of the national family planning program. But it has been reported that partner
objection was the major reason women stopped using the method. African men believe that
by letting women use female condoms, it gives them unwanted control over sex. In most
cases, this male chauvinistic behaviour insinuates unprotected sex. In Zimbabwe,
approximately 25% of women cited that their partners rejected female condoms and 50% of
these women ultimately had unprotected sex (Halperin et al, 2011). Therefore, it would be
hard for female health companies to make a sale after venturing into Africa.
Female Health Company
In India and Latin America, women are more dependent economically on men hence
hindering their ability to advance safe sex talks in marriage and outside). More so, there is
limited knowledge on HIV/AIDS amongst women especially commercial sex workers. Latin
America and India are multiple language societies hence there is limited privacy accorded to
female condom buyers which lead to stigmatization (Chattopadhyay & McKaig, 2004).
Women stigmatization in these countries is subject to limited education, resources and
residing in marginalised areas with little or no health knowledge.
Therefore, it is evident that a female health company would have to overcome various
cultural setbacks as well as other vital limits in its quest for expansion into the African, Asian
and Latin American countries.